X-Ray Specs: New ‘terahertz’ spectrum scanner lets mobile phones see through walls and clothes

“Comic-book superpowers could become reality as scientists have designed a phone that works as ‘X-Ray spec,'” Rob Waugh reports for The Daily Mail. “A hi-tech chip allows a phone to ‘see through’ walls, wood and plastics – and (although the researchers are coy about this) through fabrics such as clothing. Doctors could also use the imagers to look inside the body for cancer tumours without damaging X-Rays or large, expensive MRI scanners.”

Waugh reports, “The researchers claim it could allow DIYers to detect studs within walls, or allow businesses to detect counterfeit money. At present, it’s designed to work over a short range – and works with a normal-sized microchip that could fit into phones or other handheld electronics. The team’s research involves tapping into an unused range in the electromagnetic spectrum.”

“Chips manufactured using CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology form the basis of many consumer electronic devices used in daily life such as personal computers, smart phones, high definition TV and game consoles,” Waugh reports. “‘CMOS is affordable and can be used to make lots of chips,’ said Dr. Kenneth O, professor of electrical engineering at UT Dallas. ‘The combination of CMOS and terahertz means you could put this chip and receiver on the back of a cellphone, turning it into a device carried in your pocket that can see through objects.’”

Waugh reports, “Due to privacy concerns, Dr. O and his team are focused on uses in the distance range of less than four inches. Consumer applications of such technology could range from finding studs in walls to authentication of important documents.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Stud (and studette) finder, indeed.

Now there’s a bullet point for the spec sheet.


  1. The brief summary of the article here does not provide enough information to allow this technology to sound legitimate. It ends up sounding just as bogus as X-Ray Specs.

    Here is what has to occur for this to work:

    1) There must be a radiant source, an electro-magnetic energy projection device, aimed at the collector, in this case a CMOS chip. If we were using infrared radiation, the human body itself would be the radiant source. An x-ray machine uses a tube, much like a light bulb, that emits the source x-rays.

    2) There must be a receiving device on the other side of the object of interest. OR, if the radiant source is the subject, there is nothing between the radiant source and the collector.

    You cannot simply expect radiation from outer space to be your radiant source as it is not radiation energy in any particular direction, unless your object of interest is again, between the radiant source (such as the sun or a nasty commie laser cannon in orbit around our planet). IOW: You can’t just aim your CMOS chip collector at any old thing and expect to pick up any signal.

    An alternative to this method is to use your collector as your radiant source and collection reflections of radiation from your subject of interest. This is something like how our current wall stud finders from the hardware store work. But that is not what is discussed here.

    1. My thought exactly. But April 1 was 19 days ago!

      This page on a Fujitsu site has some better (ie non sensationalist) info on this: http://bit.ly/HXmdaY

      Derek above is correct in the transmitter/receiver aspect. You still need to transmit coherent THz radiation and you need a collector on the other side of the object where the results are displayed. This can’t be used on humans because of the heat generated in this range (you’d get a burn just like an IR burn from heat).

      1. you’d get a burn just like an IR burn from heat

        Well, it’s a matter of intensity and of potential resonance waves set up in the subject which is a matter of wavelength. We have microwave and IR waves hit us all day long. Thankfully they aren’t intense enough to cook us alive.

    2. Leave it to the Sunday Sport Daily Mail to accompany the article with a titillating pseudo-x-ray of a chick hinting that this device will be able to see through fabrics. of course it can see through fabrics, just not while they’re being worn!

      1. of course it can see through fabrics, just not while they’re being worn!

        Therefore the self-imposed 4 inch limit.

        What’s amusing is that most video and digital cameras are able to detect into the IR range if their imposed filters are removed. You can buy IR cameras if you look for them. And golly gee! The IR they pick up off people is being sent THROUGH THEIR CLOTHING! Which means these cameras anyone can get are already acting as ‘x-ray specs’ and can see us all naked! The horror. BTD I say. But modesty is part of our right to privacy.

        1. @ Derek Currie,

          Thanks for clarifying my hastily-written comments. WRT the IR-capable cameras and the IR they’re picking up from our bodies through fabric: Correct and such is the basis IIRC of all the night-vision goodies. Since the images received are IR, there’s no real surrounding contextual color so the resulting image won’t be something that will get the voyeurs all aflutter. However, leave it to certain elements of US society to declare such devices tools of the devil for being able to detect body heat.

    1. Thats exactly what we need. Shut them down! We don’t need any security at our airports. Noone would ever try to use a plane a missile or blow it up or anything like that.

      1. We already had security BEFORE the TSA.
        If they (the government) were serious about security, they would take a page from Israel and do it right.

        Instead, they form a neo-SS group to intimidate travelers.
        Next, bus stations and routine traffic stops.
        Maybe on staff at hospitals and malls.

        We can’t be too careful…….can we?

      2. The TSA ISN”T security. It is security theater, played by goons. Audits of their system, have revealed how easy it is to beat. They do not even use the screening process on the guys outside loading the luggage into the belly of the plane.

        The whole thing was a freedom/privacy grab by the fed. Bush admins, made millions from sales the cancerous nudie X-rays. You know the ones that “cannot save nor transmit” which we subsequently found out, can and do just that.

        The whole thing is a boondoggle, meant to give the appearance of safety, while providing NONE.

        If you cannot see these things, you haven’t done enough research and lack the ability to think for yourself.

        Yet another BIG government, anti-freedom program brought to you by Republicans, continued by the Democrats. Fourth amendment be damned!

  2. Anything powerful enough to see such would be powerful enough to cause harm to living tissues. As one who works in Medical Imaging, color me skeptical.

  3. first of all
    it is very low resolution and you need to hold very still
    could barely see studs in a wall for example
    nothing to see here…not even new tech

  4. Tricorder is becoming more real. Privacy aside, this will be great. Construction workers could be sure there are no wires or pipes before tarring into a wall. First responders would have more information to work with. The list goes on. Yes there will be misuse, as with everything.

  5. There is a company called Gaiacomm international that has the terahertz phone. Since 2007….in fact no harm to humans than any other frequency. This is yet another ploy to put fear in the ignorant and misinformed.

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