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Millimeter-wave TV camera sees through smoke, fog and even walls


June 15, 2010

How NHK's millimeter-wave TV camera sees through obstacles

How NHK's millimeter-wave TV camera sees through obstacles

The Science & Technology Research Laboratory (STRL) of Japan’s national public broadcaster, NHK, has developed a “millimeter-wave TV camera” that operates under the same principle as radar, taking images using radio waves instead of visible light. The technology allows objects hidden behind obstacles such as smoke, fog or even plywood to be captured as live, moving images.

The system emits millimeter waves in the 60-GHz band which bounce off the subjects and are captured by a receiver beam that scans up/down and left/right at a speed of 2.3 Hz to produce a 2D image. Because the system is sending out the waves it can selectively ignore information of an obscuring foreground object (such as a wall) based on the time it takes the waves to reflect back to the antenna, instead producing a picture based on the waves bouncing off a hidden object that take longer to reflect back.

At the moment the resultant image is more grainy mess than high resolution, but the shape and movement of a person – or in the case of the NHK demonstration, a mannequin – can easily be made out, as this video from DigInfo shows. The low resolution suggests the technology would be better suited for rescue applications rather than NHK’s original intentions for the technology of TV reports during disasters. The technology also has obvious applications for security and surveillance.

NHK demonstrated its millimeter-wave TV camera technology at a recent STRL Open House. The company plans to pursue research into the technology with the aim of increasing the image quality and frame frequency.

Via DigInfo.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Superb Invention.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Anumakonda Jagadeesh

This is primed to be militarized.


Yeez... this technology i thought was being used by the military for years via satelites?.

Anyway, from a commercial view, this would be great if used for finding people trapped under buildings, or in properties that are on fire, in fact you could bung it onto the front of an aircraft, thus assisting it to fly/land in fog, or even fly through mild ash clouds.

Note all royalties should be paid to me ...he he!

Genious Sahota (Harps).

Harpal Sahota
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