Using computers to view the unseen


Cameras and computers together can conquer some seriously stunning feats. Giving computers vision has helped us fight wildfires in California, understand complex and treacherous roads -- and even see around corners. Specifically, seven years ago a group of MIT researchers created a new imaging system that used floors, doors, and walls as "mirrors" to understand information about scenes outside a normal line of sight. Using special lasers to produce recognizable 3D images, the work opened up a realm of possibilities in letting us better understand what we can't see. Recently, a different group of scientists from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has built off of this work, but this time with no special equipment needed: They developed a method that can reconstruct hidden video from just the subtle shadows and reflections on an observed pile of clutter.

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