Imaging systems and your privacy.

Part 1: Seeing trough walls.

Up to now we’ve mostly talked about beneficial uses of ‘see trough’ technology where subjects are usually made aware of the fact that they are being examined. However, it’s not hard to become a little paranoid and assume that these technologies could be used in ways that border what is ethically correct.

The first thing you might start thinking about when discussing privacy are the controversial ‘full body scanners’ that airports are deploying within their security protocols. But even in these instances the passenger is usually made aware of the fact that they are about to be scanned with the choice to opt out and cancel their trip if they don’t wish to be exposed in this way. In the following blogs I’d like to talk about instances where people don’t know they’re being monitored.

JX425CXRecently there has been uproar in the USA, federal officials have been using hand held radars that can ‘see’ trough walls and allow them to detect if people are present in a building and whether or not they are moving. The image on the left shows you what device I’m talking about. The Youtube video below briefly discusses what all the commotion is about.

Further reading and watching of media coverage on the topic if you’re interested:
Video :

The major issue is that people feel this breaches constitutional privacy laws because officers currently don’t need warrants or any other kind of approval to use these devices. Also, some think it could do a lot of damage were it to fall in the wrong hands. All in all you might say that this stuff isn’t really that intrusive as the only feedback they’re getting are some LED’s and a numeric display with distance information.

However more advanced tech is getting available. Years ago I saw this research video from MIT which features a complex system that provides a more visual representation of what’s going on behind thick concrete walls:

(Corresponding article for your interest: )

As you can see their system already started to provide more of a visual experience of what’s going on inside, be it very vague and undefined. And you might say their huge construction isn’t that subtle but for thinner ‘urban’ walls lighter systems do exist today, as shown in the video below:

Still, it doesn’t exactly reveal you at your worst, eating two full bags of Dorito’s with salsa sauce spilled all over your smelly 2-week-old sweatshirt while watching Sturm der Liebe or whatever.

However, this technology is fairly young, and will probably get way more refined in the future and might actually start showing details. What’s your take on this? Do you think they might reach the point of making walls nearly transparent?

And is it a handy tool to neutralize possible hostage situations and dangerous criminals that have barricaded themselves. Or is it another tool to violate your privacy on a non digital level, what if burglars get a hold if it? Or that crazy ex that won’t let go? Provide me on your take on the subject in the comments below.


One thought on “Imaging systems and your privacy.

  1. I think this technology can be of good use, for example for special forces or the army, but can also be very dangerous in the wrong hands. Like you said you don’t want these devices being used by burglars or other people you don’t want in your house. Of course now it is not that big a deal but if they continue to improve the technology so you can really see inside it becomes a big problem.

    You can make a law that makes it illegal to have these things but their will always be a black market where you can buy it.

    For me even normal police officers can’t use these devices. If you look at the news or youtube, American police officers (and probably police officers of different countries too) are sometimes (often) not so strict with the law and abuse their power.


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