Next Big Thing – cameras that see round corners

Think no-one can see you picking your nose? Future Laser Camera can – and it will hunt you down

The ESPER machine from Blade Runner is real?

Steady on. We're not quite poking 2D photos like they're virtual tours just yet – but researchers at the MIT Media Lab, headed by Ramesh Raskar, have come up with something pretty damn impressive in the form of a laser camera that can take photos of objects it can't actually "see".

All-seeing cameras? Jeez, I feel all violated.

We doubt you'll be top of MIT's list for testing this ridiculous kit out, it's much more useful in inaccessible or contaminated areas. The cameras construct 3D models of objects placed around a corner by repeatedly firing a laser at a wall beyond the hidden, out of sight target area and then recording the time it takes for the scattered light to reach the camera (every 2 picoseconds).

And that makes a photo how?

Photons echo back and forth between the mystery object and the wall, allowing the team at MIT to build up a 3D picture using multiple perspectives from repositioning the laser camera – similar to how CAT scans work. If you still don't understand all that, here's a beautiful video made by Nature explaining this wizardry.

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