Researchers have invented a new kind of camera that can actually see through structures inside the human body, detecting light sources behind as much as 20 centimetres of bodily tissue.
The current prototype, developed by researchers from the University of Edinburgh in the UK, is designed to work in conjunction with endoscopes – long, slender instruments that are often equipped with cameras, sensors and lights to peer inside hollow cavities inside the human body.
Now that’s no longer a problem, due to the new camera’s capability to detect sources of light inside the body, such as the illuminated tip of the endoscope’s long flexible tube.
Thanks to thousands of integrated photon detectors inside the camera, the device can detect individual particles of light being beamed through human tissue.
By reconciling light signals that come directly to the camera with scattered photons – which travel longer distances and so take longer to reach it – the device is able to determine where the light-emitting endoscope is placed inside the body.
In the image above, you can see an example of the light the camera detects from an optical endomicroscope in use in sheep lungs.
There’s no word yet on when we can expect to see this camera used in clinical treatments, but it’s a promising development in imaging and diagnostic technologies.