Camera that tracks hidden objects



A camera system that can see around walls and locate hidden objects with centimetre precision and then track their movements has been developed by the university’s Extreme Light group.

We can now track hidden objects in real time……….and can picture them in considerable detail.
Professor Daniele Faccio

The achievement of Professor Daniele Faccio and his colleagues in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences was featured in a paper published in Nature Photonics this week.

Genevieve Gariepy, a PhD researcher in the University’s extreme light group, explained, “The system works by sending light from the camera towards the hidden object or person, and getting it back again.

“By measuring the time it takes to return to the camera, we know how far away the object is. By recording the shape of the laser ‘echo’, we know what direction it’s coming from. It takes only a second for the camera to record all of this: so if the object is moving, we can follow it.”

Professor Daniele Faccio from Heriot-Watt said, “The ability to detect the3D shape of static, hidden objects has been demonstrated before, but the long acquisition time required by existing methods meant locating and monitoring the objects was a major challenge.

“We can now track hidden objects in real time and we’re still making discoveries about how the light identifies the objects, and can picture them in considerable detail.

“We’ve already increased the distance from which the camera system will work, which is over several metres. We’re also focusing on how we could attempt 3D reconstruction of the objects captured by the camera.”