These figures were photographed from 910m away. The images on the left had more time to collect data. Those on the right show noise from a hasty picture. Facial distortions are due to weak reflection from skin. (Source: Heriot-Watt University)
Also wouldn't be surprised if Naval Special Warfare Group is not out testing the long range version operationally. A person camoflaged against a brushy background would stand out as a 3D image--happy hunting.
The picture quality seems blur but then I guess is due to the fact that they don't work well with the human face, I think they ought to make the resolution better because it goes without saying that agencies like the CIA and FBI will adopt the technology. The environmental monitoring part is pretty fascinating since the natural calamities won't find us with our guards down.
You mention GoogleEarth- that's the thought that came to my mind, but in a slightly different way: I always imagined that all the terrestrial imaging from space was simply the result of high-end optics and a huge MegaPixel array to capture detail from 100 miles high. (I actually don't have a clue how Google gets that resolution; I'm guessing) But this article seems to describe more of a scanning system than an optics system. Seems like its more like RADAR than Photography.
Hmm if it has mm resolution at a km what's it like from 5m? Does this mean we can spin someone or something on a stool and get an accurate 3D model? Could be great for engineering an conversion of something for 3D printing. I know there are solutions out there with cameras and lasers but I've not seen anything that was as good as a contact system
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
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