Your WiFi Is Showing
When I was in school, I’d think a lot about what it’d be like to see things in different wavelengths. I might have been influenced by the 2003 movie Daredevil where the main character, played by Ben Affleck, was able to visualize the world around him through sound. Radio waves and sounds waves at different frequencies behave differently and I wondered if it would be more detailed or there would be some new colour I couldn’t imagine.
What made me think about this again recently was a Radio Lab episode entitled G: The World’s Smartest Animal in which they discussed the ability of sperm whales to communicate feelings through their calls. It’s like the mantis shrimp being able to see all sorts of colors that we can’t see. Or dogs having the ability to smell different components of food in granular detail.
What amazes me is that even with our sense, we can only perceive so much. But imagine the ability to sense much more, or differently? Or what new inferences about our environment we could glean from sensing in such a way. Acoustic cameras come to mind. They’re used to find out where devices are making noise. Femto-photography is another technique that can allow us to even see behind objects.
Developing new types of imaging devices is very expensive and relies on advances in physics. This means supporting researchers in labs for decades at a time for some type of breakthrough. Fiberoptics, scanning microscopy, neutrino detection took billions in investments. It’s too expensive to develop this way unless the spending is very focused.
The next advances will likely come in applying digital filters and digital layering of imagery. It will come through looking for patterns in noisy imagines to increase resolution. It will come in applying coloring to different information. Maybe this will lead to some breakthroughs in AR?