Wearing a pair of x-ray glasses and seeing through objects? Let's face it, it has long been a dream only possible in movies, sci-fi comics and certain magazine ads. Today, though, MIT engineers have created a smart wearable device called X-AR that could make this fantasy a reality.
The researchers announced their latest findings Feb. 27 in a new study titled "Augmenting Augmented Reality with Non-Line-of-Sight Perception." I'll link it here.
What is this?
X-AR is a special viewer that takes advantage of the augmented reality (AR) to allow the user to see what is hidden behind opaque objects. In practice, the device captures images of the surrounding environment through a camera and processes them using advanced algorithms, in order to "remove" objects and show its user what lies beyond them.
Of course, these are not the classic version of X-ray glasses that we know from cinema films: this technology uses RFID (radio frequency identification) to locate hidden objects and show them to the user on a display.
In this way, the user can easily locate the lost or misplaced objects, all thanks to this technology developed by the MIT research team.
"X-ray" glasses, possible applications
X-AR can be used in many ways, some of which are truly amazing. For example, it can help logistics operators quickly find and sort items in a store or warehouse. Technicians, on the other hand, can use the device to assemble their products: a sort of portable virtual assistant.
Second Fadel Adib, the paper's senior author and an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at MIT, the goal is to develop an augmented reality system that allows users to "see invisible things."
When active, X-AR can retrieve the location of an object previously stored in a database. You put on the "x-ray" glasses, select your cell phone from a list (which, as usual, you can't find) and X-AR shows you where it is in space, even if it's in other rooms. Here's a video.
The next steps
At the moment the device still needs improvement. According to MIT researchers, the accuracy of X-AR in finding an object within 10 centimeters (four inches) of its location is 96%. Great news, but the radius needs to be increased.
When X-AR is perfected, I'm sure its technology will usher in a new generation of highly advanced wearable devices.
Not enough to peek under the clothes of the person we like, of course.