In the future, staying out of photos may not be as easy as ducking behind a corner. Nature Photonics recently reported on a new camera from scientists at Heriot-Watt University that can detect objects outside of its frame of view using a mechanism similar to the echo location used by bats.

In the video below, the researchers test the device by placing Terry, a 30-centimeter foam figurine, around a corner with the camera situated on the opposite side. They then shine a laser pointer to send short pulses of light to a spot on the floor just outside the camera’s range. Because the ultra-fast, ultra-sensitive camera is sensitive enough to detect single photons, it is able to pick up the light’s “echo” as it rebounds off the object—in this case, Terry—beyond the wall. 

At this stage, the camera is only able to sense small objects no more than a meter away. And while it can pinpoint the exact location of objects even when they’re on the go, it’s still unable to determine shapes. The next step for the team is to develop the technology needed to sense human-sized figures from meters away. In addition to making the world’s sneakiest security camera, it could also be used by cars to detect any incoming vehicles or pedestrians that are out of view. 

[h/t: Science News]