Scientists have developed a method for using radio signals to create images and videos of hidden and moving objects in real-time. The new development, for example, could help firefighters find escape routes from a building filled with fire and smoke, as well as track hypersonic objects such as rockets and space debris.
Our system allows real-time imaging of an object that is behind a wall or around a corner, and also tracks fast-moving objects such as space debris in the size of a millimeter.
Fabio da Silva, Head of Engineering at NIST.
The NIST imaging method is a kind of radar that sends out an electromagnetic pulse, waits for how it will be reflected, and then measures the time it took for the signal to release and receive it: this way you can measure the distance to an object.
Da Silva explains the process of creating images as follows: conventional systems divide space into cubes and analyze each one individually, which is very time-consuming. However, NIST examines all cubes at the same time and uses back echoes from, say, 10 out of 100 cubes to figure out where the object is.
Da Silva noted that the current system has a potential range of several kilometers. However, this distance can be increased: for this, it is necessary to increase the power of the transmitter and the sensitivity of the receiver.