Scientists have created a powerful holographic camera that can see through almost any object, even fog and corners.

The device, built by researchers from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, uses a technique called ‘synthetic wavelength holography’.

This works by indirect scattering light onto hidden objects. The scattered light then travels back towards a camera where it is processed to build the original object. 

Although it’s still 10 years away from commercial availability, it can be applied in automobiles, CCTV systems, or even medical scanning.  

One example could be to replace the use of an endoscope in colonoscopy, instead gathering the light waves to see around the folds inside the intestines. 

A powerful holographic camera has been developed by scientists, and it is able to see though almost anything, including corners, fog, and even human flesh

Scientists have created a powerful holographic camera that can see through almost any object, corners included, as well as fog and human flesh.


1) The light waves of two lasers are fired towards a wall at distance by a pair of virtual detectors.

2) Light field information, such as scattered light from hidden objects and other details, are captured into the camera

3. The object which generated scattered light is reconfigured into a three-dimensional form

You can only use it if there’s an opaque barrier between your camera and hidden objects to scatter light.

5) The future uses of this feature could allow drivers to view animals and people from around corners before turning their car.

Non-line-of sight (NLoS imaging) is a new area of research. This technique allows for rapid capture of full-field images over large areas.

The camera does this with submillimeter accuracy, which is a higher resolution than an AI-driven camera that could see through skin and even see tiny capillaries.

An algorithm reconstructs scattered light signals by combining them with hidden objects. 

This method can also image high-speed objects due to its resolution.

This method can be used for noninvasive medical image, but there are many applications.

These include the development of automotive early-warning systems and inspections in restricted spaces.

The researchers think that the possibilities for applications are limitless.

Florian Willomitzer (first author) said that “our technology will usher into a new wave imaging capabilities.”

“Our sensor prototypes currently utilize visible and infrared lights, but this principle could be universalized to include other wavelengths. 

The same technique could also be applied to radio waves used for space exploration and underwater acoustic imagery. This method can be used in many other areas. We have just scratched the surface. 

They say that seeing in a corner is the same as looking inside the body to see if there’s a heart pumping, and the teams are actually very close. 

Because both depend on scattering media in which light hits objects and scatters so that an image cannot be formed directly,

Willomitzer stated, “If you’ve ever attempted to shine a flashlight through the palm of your hand, you’ve experienced this phenomenon.” 

The device, built by researchers from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, uses a technique called 'synthetic wavelength holography'

Researchers from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois created the device using a technique known as’synthetic wavelength holography’

The team say it is a decade away from being commercially available, but when it is the technology could be used in cars, CCTV and even as a medical scanner

It is still a decade before it becomes commercially viable, however, the team believes that it could soon be available in vehicles, CCTV, and as a medical scanner.


Research suggests a range of possible uses for light detection technology.

A car-mounted camera can be used to see behind blind corners and objects, such as an animal or another vehicle.

The device could be used without radiation to obtain images of brains, hearts and other organs. 

They believe it can replace endoscopes. These are thin flexible cables that allow for the capture of images from hard to reach places using scattered light.

They can also be used instead of a colonoscopy to view inside the colon or image generators as they run, and without needing to stop. 

You see a bright spot across your hand. However, the theory is that there should be shadows cast by bones. These bones reveal your bone’s structure. 

“Instead of the light passing through the bones, it scatters within the tissue all directions and blurs out the shadow image.

It was intended to capture scattered light and reconstruct its information, including the time it traveled. 

Willomitzer stated that “Nothing can travel faster than light speed”, so you will need very fast detectors to accurately measure the time it takes for light to travel.

The scientists stated that these detectors could be very costly.

The researchers wanted to eliminate fast detectors and created a synthetic light wave by merging the light waves of two lasers.

You can adapt this to make holographic imaging work in different scattering conditions, explained the authors. They also said that you can reconstruct 3D shapes if you capture all of the light fields from an object using holograms.

‘We do this holographic imaging around a corner or through scatterers — with synthetic waves instead of normal light waves.’

One example could be to replace the use of an endoscope in colonoscopy, instead gathering the light waves to see around the folds inside the intestines

For example, you could replace colonoscopy with colonoscopy using an endoscope and instead gather light waves that can be used to look around the intestines.

This is a relatively new field of research, known as non-line-of-sight (NLoS) imaging, and this technique can rapidly capture full-field images of large areas

This new research field is non-line of sight imaging (NLoS). It can quickly capture large-area full-field photos.

A system of Artificial Intelligence that allows autonomous cars to see around corners in realtime, could be used to prevent collisions 

Its developers believe that an artificial intelligence system, which allows self-driving vehicles to “see” in real time around corners could reduce accidents. 

Stanford University researchers have developed a method that bounces laser light off walls to make an image of hidden objects.

Although the ‘image’ taken won’t be understood by a person, artificial intelligence technology can reconstruct the hidden view using visual reconstruction. 

This research was supported by the US Government Agency DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) and it is just one of many similar programs currently being developed.

This could be useful for soldiers, rescue workers looking for people, and space travel to inspect the inner caves of an asteroids.

Previous attempts to find hidden objects using NLoS have had the same issues – low resolution, small angular fields and poor quality.

Some of the problems with older attempts were the slow scans or the large area required to measure scattered light.  

This technology solves these problems and allows for image-taking around corners, as well through different media (such as metal and skin) at higher resolution.

It combines high spatial resolution, high temporal resolution, a small probing area and a large angular field of view. 

The camera has the ability to image small features within tight spaces and hidden objects in bigger areas, at higher resolution.

You can also do this if the target object moves, like another car on a road at a blind corner. 

Light can only move along straight lines so an opaque barrier such as a car or wall must exist to allow the device to view around corners.

The light emitted by the sensor unit bounces off a barrier before hitting the object just around the corner. 

The light bounces off the barrier, and finally back into the detector on the sensor unit.

Willomitzer explained that it was like he could place a virtual camera on each remote surface in order to observe the world’s view from its perspective. 

He said that the technique transforms walls into mirrors and it can also work in fogging conditions at night.

It could replace or augment endoscopes used for medical and industrial imaging. For example, it would use light to view around the intestinal folds instead of sending flexible cameras for colonoscopy. 

You could use it to see inside industrial equipment such as generators or turbines, while the machine is running. This would reduce disruption.  

It’s currently only a prototype. Due to the time required to obtain medical approval, it could take up to ten more years to become a commercial product. 

Nature Communications published the study November 17.