Forget about NFC payments… you might be able to look through the objects you place your smartphone on in the future.
Smartphone cameras are getting better all the time, but so far the improvements have mostly been related to image quality, shooting in low-light situations, and capturing moving subjects without the jumpiness that is the hallmark of cheaper pocket-cams. Your next smartphone however, could offer an improvement of a different sort: the ability to see through solid objects.
It’s all down to research being done in Texas around the terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum. The ability to tap into terahertz wavelengths itself isn’t new — for years, researchers have been exploring it as a way to speed up wireless data transfer. What’s new is that the Texas team has come up with a way to integrate terahertz receivers with the CMOS chips present in so many consumer devices — like smartphones and tablets.
According to Dr. Kenneth O of the University of Texas Dallas, “The terahertz range is full of unlimited potential that could benefit us all.”
Some of the more exciting uses for this technology could turn smartphones into even more useful tools for medical professionals. They could be used for detecting tumors and analysing the respiratory system, for example. Contractors could use their phones to see inside walls without having to drill a single hole or swing a hammer. Dr. O’s team is focusing on uses within a very limited range — just four inches — so you needn’t worry about unsavory uses of the technology in the immediate future.
The promise of faster wireless networks is exciting, too. In February, researchers used a terahertz wireless bridge to push data at the mind-boggling speed of 20 Gigabits per second. That’s a huge increase over today’s fastest wireless networks.
What other possibilities can you think of, Sync readers? Perhaps your next visit to the dentist won’t involve that clunky old x-ray equipment. Maybe you’ll just get a smartphone pressed up against your cheek to see where that new filling needs to go…