The radio antenna consists of two rows, one on top of the other. The top row, has 8 receivers lined up next to each other.
The bottom row has 13 units which are used for transmitting the radar.
The test performed by MIT didn’t go through wood or wallboard, they did a demo using 4 inch and 8 inch concrete walls…pretty impressive.
Now, you may think that walls would block all light hitting it, right?…that’s why it’s called a wall after all.
Actually walls block only most of the light hitting it. “Most” means that some actually gets through. In this case, the walls block 99 percent of the radar light that hits it. Then of course it bounces back and it has to go thru the wall again. Again 99% is blocked. What you have left then is a signal that’s at about .0025 percent of it’s original strength. Not much to work with but amplifiers are cheap and powerful. Surprisingly, that wasn’t even the hard part according to researchers
The real challenge was developing a system that could provide 3 key things.
Speed, Rsolution and Range.
Without them, it wouldn’t be useful in real-time applications and that was their major goal.
Gregory Charvat, technical staff at Lincoln Lab and the leader of the project said:
“If you’re in a high-risk combat situation, you don’t want one image every 20 minutes, and you don’t want to have to stand right next to a potentially dangerous building,”
So…in terms of range, this thing can operate 60 feet from a wall which isn’t too shabby.
For speed it’s real-time, which as I said is pretty key for many applications.
Resolution is claimed to be good too because of the state of the art digital processing and and sophisticated algorithms they’re using.
Size is manageable as well but someone’s not going to carry it around in their cellphone. The best they can do now is mount it on a truck but that’s ok.
Now for the drawbacks (you knew this was coming).
The image processing uses what’s called the subtraction method. Each new image is compared to the previous to see what the difference is, to see what’s changed. That means that static objects are esentially invisible. That’s tolerable as well because even if someone is trying to stand perfectly motionless as if a T-Res were looking at you, they can still be detected becuase of small movements that can’t really be controlled.
The real disapointment for me was the image of people it creates. They’re actually described as blobs. I guess just knowing that a blob is a person is valuable intel but come on…Star Trek wouldn’t have a device that sees through walls that only showed a stupid damn blob (unless it was an alien blob)
Charvat then said something more disappointing.
“To understand the blobs requires a lot of extra training,”
What the hell does that mean? A blob is a person. How much training does that require?
I suppose the general shape of the blob or how it moves can provide additional important information. Whatever.
Currently they’re working on algorithms that could convert the blob into what they call a “clean symbol” so it’s more user friendly.
What I want to know is what it would take to have a fairly clear image of a person. What wavelength of light would you need. How big would the device be? is that even feasible given the grealty attentuated signal that makes it back to the receiver?
Anyway, like I said this is a pretty slick device and seems like it could be very useful in urban combat situation. If it saves some lives and helps us deal with some real bad guys, who am I to argue.