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 Apr 14, 2005 - 04:30 PM - by Michael
* Building the Tricorder

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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft
The NYT (registration or bugmenot required) has word on the development of "millimeter wave" sensors; scientists are trying to make it affordable.

It's cool technology because it actually DOES manage to do Tricorder-like things while being a passive sensor.

The energy the sensors look for is in an unfamiliar part of the electromagnetic spectrum, different from the usual visible light or infrared. At wavelengths of two centimeters to one millimeter, the energy is much longer than light or infrared waves, and thus able to pass through clothing and similar material. Human bodies radiate the energy at a rate higher than metal, plastic or composite materials, so those objects can be spotted under clothing, in silhouette.

The sensors have been successfully demonstrated in laboratories and have been sold mostly to government agencies for evaluation.
Some companies are working on "active" millimeter wave systems, which are more like radar in bouncing energy off the person being studied, Mr. Byrne said. In fact, low-power radar is already in use at some airports to search arriving passengers. But radar systems raise potential health concerns from exposure to the energy, and also privacy issues because body parts are clearly visible. Active millimeter systems could raise the same worries.

Oh, and they consider "cheap" to be in the neighborhood of $50,000 to $60,000. Not quite a hand-held device for the masses, yet.

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