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Stanford researchers devise way to see through clouds and fog

A three-dimensional reconstruction of the reflective letter “S,” as seen through the 1-inch-thick foam.
Image credit: Stanford Computational Imaging Lab
Aug 9 2020
Fellow, Research, Stanford, Students

Like a comic book come to life, researchers at Stanford University have developed a kind of X-ray vision – only without the X-rays. Working with hardware similar to what enables autonomous cars to “see” the world around them, the researchers enhanced their system with a highly efficient algorithm that can reconstruct three-dimensional hidden scenes based on the movement of individual particles of light, or photons. In tests, detailed in a paper published Sept. 9 in Nature Communications, their system successfully reconstructed shapes obscured by 1-inch-thick foam. To the human eye, it’s like seeing through walls.

“A lot of imaging techniques make images look a little bit better, a little bit less noisy, but this is really something where we make the invisible visible,” said Gordon Wetzstein, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford and senior author of the paper. “This is really pushing the frontier of what may be possible with any kind of sensing system. It’s like superhuman vision.”

The lead author of this study is David Lindell is a 2016 Stanford Graduate Fellow.

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