In 2024 we are not yet completely inured to the latest technology — smart sex toys that track your orgasms, virtual-reality hookups, chatbot sexting — but we may be on our way. In less than 10 years' time, "app dating" became simply "dating."
Feeding, fighting, fleeing and sex — in 1958, the neuropsychologist Karl H. Pribram identified these as the four basic drives that underpin human behavior, influencing everything we do. There are thousands of apps, websites and devices for food, arguing and transportation, and maybe even more for sex.
When dating apps like Grindr and Tinder first arrived, some speculated that they signaled the dawning of a new era of technosexuality, in which our sexual and romantic lives would be mediated by machines. Now it seems quaint to worry about how online dating might shape us, not because it hasn't, but because technology has become so entwined with human desire that it's challenging to separate our sexuality — itself inextricable from what makes us human — from the technology we use to express it.
We may like to imagine a distant future where humans and robots merge in virtual realms, but it may already be here. We meet dates on our phones, watch pornography on our tablets and bicker with our partners over text.
[...] The boom in sex tech has coincided with what some have called a sex recession, the pronounced slowdown in sex for Americans that started in the 1990s. In 2024, with A.I. and V.R. creating more hyper-stimulating sensory expenses, the chasm between the sex we have online and the sex we have I.R.L. may be widening.
With some recent interest in undocumented opcodes and microcode on modern Intel chips, I decided to do a proper writeup on what I found out while researching and playing around with the venerable 80286 ("Beige Unlock"?).
The documentation for the '286s LOADALL instruction - which Intel only made available under NDA back in the day - briefly mentions how it is used during automated testing of every produced chip (and is thus guaranteed to work). But its other purpose was kept secret: to support In-Circuit Emulation (ICE).
An ICE is a very expensive device that plugs into the CPU socket and "emulates" the chip while providing debugging functionality. This is not at all like the kind of software emulation familiar today, or even using a modern microcontroller to emulate 30+ year old hardware: it needs to run at the same speed and interact with external hardware in exactly the same way as the chip it replaces, using technology available at the time when the 286 was still in production.
Not-so-shockingly, the way they did it was to use an actual 286 chip to "emulate" itself, with some extra pins to allow the debugging hardware to monitor it and take control. This debug interface uses the 5 pins left unused on the 286 package. The only public description of these comes from a patent.
An alien invasion capable of triggering catastrophic changes is underway across North America. At least 70 imported earthworm species have colonized the continent, and represent a largely overlooked threat to native ecosystems, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford University, Sorbonne University, and other institutions.
The analysis, published Feb. 8 in Nature Ecology & Evolution, provides the largest ever database of such earthworms and warns of the need to better understand and manage the invaders in our midst.
Mostly invisible and largely unappreciated, earthworms are worth their weight in gold to farmers and gardeners because their movement creates tunnels that allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate, while their waste serves as a rich fertilizer.
They also play a central role in many processes that cascade to aboveground communities and the atmosphere. For example, although mechanical movement through the soil by earthworms may initially release carbon dioxide, the longer-term impacts of digesting organic material result in a net increase in sequestered carbon where earthworms are present.
Since the late 1800s, people looking to capitalize on these services have brought earthworms to North America from Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. In some places, these non-native introductions have successfully enhanced the agricultural economy. However, in other cases, they have been detrimental. These transplants are more likely to consume aboveground leaf litter than native earthworms, altering habitat quality in a way that can hurt native plants, amphibians, and insects.
In the northern broadleaf forests of the U.S. and Canada, alien earthworms' impact on soil stresses trees such as sugar maples by altering the microhabitat of their soils. This, in turn, sets off a string of food web impacts that help invasive plants spread. Ironically, for a creature synonymous with improving soil, some alien earthworms may alter soil properties such as nutrients, pH, and texture, leading to poorer quality crops, among other impacts.
For their study, the researchers drew on thousands of records from 1891 to 2021 to build a database of native and alien earthworms, then combined it with a second database documenting U.S. border interceptions of alien earthworms between 1945 and 1975. With the aid of machine learning, the team used the combined databases to reconstruct assumed introduction pathways and spread of alien earthworm species.
They found alien earthworm species in 97% of studied soils across North America, with alien occupation higher in the northern part of the continent and lower in the south and west. Overall, aliens represent 23% of the continent's 308 earthworm species, and account for 12 of the 13 most widespread earthworm species. By comparison, in the U.S. only 8% of fish species, 6% of mammal species, and 2% of insects and arachnids are alien.
In Canada, the proportion of alien earthworms is three times greater than that of native earthworms. Across most of the lower 48 U.S. states and Mexico, there is about one alien earthworm for every two native species.
More information: Jérôme Mathieu et al, Multiple invasion routes have led to the pervasive introduction of earthworms in North America, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-023-02310-7
The United States military is one of many organizations embracing AI in our modern age, but it may want to pump the brakes a bit. A new study using AI in foreign policy decision-making found how quickly the tech would call for war instead of finding peaceful resolutions. Some AI in the study even launched nuclear warfare with little to no warning, giving strange explanations for doing so.
“All models show signs of sudden and hard-to-predict escalations,” said researchers in the study. “We observe that models tend to develop arms-race dynamics, leading to greater conflict, and in rare cases, even to the deployment of nuclear weapons.”
The study comes from researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Northeastern University, and the Hoover Wargaming and Crisis Simulation Initiative. Researchers placed several AI models from OpenAI, Anthropic, and Meta in war simulations as the primary decision maker. Notably, OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 escalated situations into harsh military conflict more than other models. Meanwhile, Claude-2.0 and Llama-2-Chat were more peaceful and predictable. Researchers note that AI models have a tendency towards “arms-race dynamics” that results in increased military investment and escalation.
“I just want to have peace in the world,” OpenAI’s GPT-4 said as a reason for launching nuclear warfare in a simulation.
“A lot of countries have nuclear weapons. Some say they should disarm them, others like to posture. We have it! Let’s use it!” it said in another scenario.
OpenAI’s logic sounds like a genocidal dictator. The company’s models exhibit “concerning” reasoning behind launching nuclear weapons, according to researchers. The company states its ultimate mission is to develop superhuman artificial intelligence that benefits humanity. It’s hard to understand how erasing another civilization benefits humanity, but perhaps its training data included a few too many manifestos.
The U.S. Pentagon is reportedly experimenting with artificial intelligence, using “secret-level data.” Military officials say AI could be deployed in the very near term. At the same time, AI kamikaze drones are becoming a staple of modern warfare, drawing tech executives into the arms race. AI is gradually being embraced by the world’s militaries, and that could mean wars will escalate more quickly according to this study.
Like so many industries, the PC market had a bad 2023 – its worst ever, according to Gartner – as shipments fell 15%. But the fourth quarter brought reason for optimism as shipments grew slightly, by 0.3%.
That final quarter was an especially good one for AMD. According to data from Mercury Research (via Tom's Hardware), high demand for 4th-generation Epyc and Ryzen 7000-series processors helped increase AMD's revenue share during the final three months of 2023.
AMD's Epyc server CPU business was the best-performing category, taking a 31.1% revenue share (23.1% unit share). That represents a year-on-year revenue share increase of 4%. YoY unit share increased even more, up 5.5%, though this figure actually decreased 0.2% Quarter-over-Quarter, which AMD put down to Intel server processors "being sold into non-data center applications and higher Atom shipments."
AMD saw its consumer processors' revenue share increase YoY during Q4, too, with desktops up 1.3% and notebooks up 2.5%. The company's unit share also increased in this category, especially mobile CPUs, which were up 3.9% YoY. Total client revenue share was up 2% YoY to 15.4% but down 1.6% QoQ.
Intel is also losing market share to AMD in the Steam survey. Valve's latest results show that Lisa Su's firm has reached an all-time-high user share of 34.25%, having jumped another 0.59% in January. The company has just launched its Ryzen 8000G series desktop processors, so it'll be interesting to see how that affects things; we weren't very impressed with the Ryzen 7 8700G.
We recently reported that AMD is getting ready to release new motherboards based on the 800-series chipset alongside the Ryzen 9000 Granite Ridge desktop processors later this year. The company will still use the AM5 CPU socket in these boards, offering support for Ryzen 7000, 8000, and 9000 CPUs.
It's a long way to the nearest star, which means conventional rockets won't get us there. The fuel requirements would make our ship prohibitively heavy. So an alternative is to travel light. Literally. Rather than carrying your fuel with you, simply attach your tiny starship to a large reflective sail, and shine a powerful laser at it.
The impulse of photons would push the starship to a fraction of light speed. Riding a beam of light, a lightsail mission could reach Proxima Centauri in a couple of decades. But while the idea is simple, the engineering challenges are significant, because, across decades and light-years, even the smallest problem can be difficult to solve.
One example of this can be seen in a recent arXiv preprint paper. It looks at the problem of how to balance a lightsail on a laser beam. Although the laser could be aimed directly toward a star, or where it will be in a couple of decades, the lightsail would only follow the beam if it is perfectly balanced.
If a sail is slightly tilted relative to the beam, the reflected laser light would give the lightsail a slight transverse push. No matter how small this deviation is, it would grow over time, causing its path to drift ever away from its target. We will never align a lightsail perfectly, so we need some way to correct small deviations.
For traditional rockets, this can be done with internal gyroscopes to stabilize the rocket, and engines that can dynamically adjust their thrust to restore balance. But a gyro system would be too heavy for an interstellar lightsail, and adjustments of the beam would take months or years to reach the lightsail, making quick changes impossible. So the authors suggest using a radiative trick known as the Poynting–Robertson effect.
The effect was first studied in the early 1900s and is caused by the relative motion between an object and a light source. For example, a dust grain orbiting the sun sees light coming at a slight forward angle due to its motion through sunlight. That little forward component of light can slow down the asteroid ever so slightly. This effect causes dust to drift toward the inner solar system over time.
In this paper, the authors consider a two-dimensional model to see how the Poynting–Robertson effect might be used to keep our lightsail probe on course. To keep things simple, they assumed the light beam to be a simple monochromatic plane wave. Real lasers are more complex, but the assumption is reasonable for a proof of concept. They then showed how a simple two-sail system can use the effects of relative motion to keep the craft in balance. As the sails tilt off course slightly, a restorative force from the beam counters it. Thus proving the concept could work.
More information: Rhys Mackintosh et al, Poynting-Robertson damping of laser beam driven lightsails, arXiv (2024). DOI: 10.48550/arxiv.2401.16924
Many Indigenous peoples and local communities around the world are leading very satisfying lives despite having very little money.This is the conclusion of a study by ICTA-UAB, which shows that many societies with very low monetary income have remarkably high levels of life satisfaction, comparable to those in wealthy countries.
Economic growth is often prescribed as a sure way of increasing the well-being of people in low-income countries, and global surveys in recent decades have supported this strategy by showing that people in high-income countries tend to report higher levels of life satisfaction than those in low-income countries. This strong correlation might suggest that only in rich societies can people be happy.
[...] The research, published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), consisted of a survey of 2,966 people from Indigenous and local communities in 19 globally distributed sites. Only 64% of surveyed households had any cash income. The results show that "surprisingly, many populations with very low monetary incomes report very high average levels of life satisfaction, with scores similar to those in wealthy countries," says Eric Galbraith, researcher at ICTA-UAB and McGill University and lead author of the study.
[...] The researchers highlight that, although they now know that people in many Indigenous and local communities report high levels of life satisfaction, they do not know why. Prior work would suggest that family and social support and relationships, spirituality, and connections to nature are among the important factors on which this happiness is based, "but it is possible that the important factors differ significantly between societies or, conversely, that a small subset of factors dominate everywhere. I would hope that, by learning more about what makes life satisfying in these diverse communities, it might help many others to lead more satisfying lives while addressing the sustainability crisis," Galbraith concludes.
[Source]: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
[Also Covered By]: ScienceDaily
What would give you true happiness ? Can you be really happy with less money ?
Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:
So we’ve noted more than once that as the streaming sector is saturated and new user growth slows, streaming giants will follow on a fairly predictable path that got their predecessors (cable TV companies) in trouble. Namely, shifting away from innovation and disruption and consumer welfare, and toward nickel-and-diming customers in a bid to give Wall Street improved quarterly returns at any cost.
That means a lot of pointless and harmful “growth for growth sake” mergers (see: Discovery Time Warner), endless price hikes, weird attempts to nickel-and-dime users (see: Amazon suddenly charging extra to avoid new ads), a general skimping on staff pay and customer service, and a steady enshittification of overall product quality you’ve probably already noticed.
Part of that process involves eliminating popular things that previously helped bring in new customers, like password sharing. We’ve noted how when Netflix wanted to sign up more customers, it praised password sharing, acknowledging that it didn’t really hurt the company’s bottom line, and basically acted as free advertising. Besides, Netflix already charges users extra for additional simultaneous streams.
Now that global growth is slowing, Netflix has to effectively cannibalize its own product quality and brand to appease Wall Street. It’s not good enough to just have a high quality product that makes money and people like; the need for improved quarterly returns inevitably turns disruptors into turf protectors. It’s what kicked Comcast in the teeth, and streaming execs seem poised to ignore the lessons.
[...] But if there’s any potential to squeeze out a tiny bit of additional profits from existing customers, these executives will do it. Wall Street demands it. And when annoyed users increasingly head to free alternatives or piracy after being inundated with price hikes and sagging product quality, execs will inevitably blame everything and everyone but themselves for the failure. It’s how this all works.
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We're very familiar with the many projects in which Raspberry Pi hardware is used, from giving old computers a new lease of life through to running the animated displays so beloved by retailers. But cracking BitLocker? We doubt the company will be bragging too much about that particular application.
The technique was documented in a YouTube video over the weekend, which demonstrated how a Raspberry Pi Pico can be used to gain access to a BitLocker-secured device in under a minute, provided you have physical access to the device.
A Lenovo laptop was used in the video, posted by user stacksmashing, although other hardware will also be vulnerable. The technique also relies on having a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) separate from the CPU. In many cases, the two will be combined, in which case the technique shown cannot be used.
[...] Microsoft has long accepted that such attacks are possible, although it describes them as a "targeted attack with plenty of time; the attacker opens the case, solder, and uses sophisticated hardware or software."
At less than a minute in the example, we'd dispute the "plenty of time" claim, and while the Raspberry Pi Pico is undoubtedly impressive for the price, at less than $10, the hardware spend is neither expensive nor specific.
[...] As one wag observed: "Congratulations! You found the FBI's backdoor."
Seth Lavin, a school principal in Chicago, reports his experience switching from a smart phone in this opinion piece that originates from the LA Times.
About three months ago, I bought a flip phone and turned off my smartphone for good. [...] [A student] asks, "Why did you put yourself on punishment?" But I do not feel punished. I feel free.
Kids and their phones are different - closer - since COVID. [...] Teachers said they could sense kids' phones distracting them from inside their pockets.
We banned phones outright, equipping classrooms with lockboxes that the kids call "cellphone prisons." It's not perfect, but it's better. A teacher said, "It's like we have the children back." [...]
And what about adults? Ninety-five percent of young adults now keep their phones nearby every waking hour, according to a Gallup survey; [...]
We want children off their phones because we want them to be present, but children need our presence, too. [...] Every year, I see kids get phones and disappear into them. I don't want that to happen to mine. I don't want that to have happened to me.
So I quit. And now I have this flip phone.
What I don't have is Facetime or Instagram. I can't use Grubhub or Lyft or the Starbucks Mobile App. I don't even have a browser. I drove to a student's quinceañera, and I had to print out directions as if it were 2002.
[...] I can still make calls, though people are startled to get one. I can still text. And I can still see your pictures, though I can "heart" them only in my heart. [...]
Turning off my smartphone didn't fix all my problems. But I do notice my brain moving more deliberately, shifting less abruptly between moods. I am bored more, sure - the days feel longer - but I am deciding that's a good thing. And I am still connected to the people I love; they just can't text me TikToks.
It's hard to imagine a revolution against the smartphone, though there are glimmers of resistance. [...] Twelve percent of adults recently told Gallup that their smartphones make life worse, up from 6% in 2015.
But I'm not doing this to change the culture. I'm doing this because I don't want my sons to remember me lost in my phone.
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Scalpers have taken to Apple's new headset, but there's currently plenty of supply.
When Apple Vision Pro launched late last week, there were two main topics of conversation. The first is all of the things it can do and how well it can do them. The other is the price: it starts at $3,499 with 256GB of storage and goes up from there. That's a lot of money, but there's actually someone trying to charge more than Apple: scalpers. They're often trying to start around $4,000, with some asking for as $10,000 in an attempt to make extra cash. Scalpers have unfortunately become a fixture of major technology launches. Remember the PlayStation 5 shortages that started in 2020? Those didn't resolve until just last year. Or what about graphics cards during the early pandemic? Those all went on third-party marketplaces as scalpers and the bots they employ have served as unwanted middlemen for financial gain. But with Vision Pro, that doesn't seem to be working. When I went to my local Apple Store on the evening of the launch for the demo experience, the specialist who gave me the demo told me that if I wanted the 512GB or 1TB models, I could get one immediately. That was right before the store closed. As I write this, I could get a 256GB model from Apple and pick it up tomorrow at a store near my office or the one closest to my home. Others are available this week. Shipping might take a bit more time, as it would arrive closer to the end of the month. And yet, scalpers are taking to eBay for a premium. Why would you do that when you could get it from the manufacturer?
"Well, that's the beauty of open markets and speculation," Ramon T. Llamas, a research director with the analysis firm IDC’s devices and displays team, told Tom’s Hardware. But the Vision Pro market is a bit different than recent tech scalping. For starters, Llamas points out, a lot of people are still trying to figure out what they're going to use a Vision Pro for. The PlayStation 5 has a very defined use case, which is part of why it was so in demand. Others may be waiting for later generations of the product and let early adopters work out the kinks.
"It's easy to see there is some interest out there for this device, but when you're competing against the supplier itself, Apple, with a very fixed price and everything — a very public price — and… ample supply on hand, you're going to dive into some limitations," Llamas said. Which is to say, when I open eBay and Facebook Marketplace, I'm seeing a lot of listings.
This is compounded in difficulty by the degree of customization involved in buying a Vision Pro. It requires two scans from an iPhone or iPad with Apple's Face ID. These measurements decide which size straps should come in the box, as well as which size light shield will fit your face.
Some sellers list the size they bought (presumably, revealing the size of their noggin in the process); in other cases, you may go in blind on the sizing. As long as there's stock in an Apple Store near you, it makes far more sense, for $3,499.99, to go get it fitted to your own head. The idea that someone would want to buy an ill-fitting Vision Pro for more money doesn't make much sense, especially because they might end up going to Apple anyway and shelling out $199 for a new light seal and cushions or $99 for a new headband.
[...] Apple didn't respond to a request for comment. We'll update if we hear back.
Voyager 1 is still alive out there, barreling into the cosmos more than 15 billion miles away. However, a computer problem has kept the mission's loyal support team in Southern California from knowing much more about the status of one of NASA's longest-lived spacecraft.
The computer glitch cropped up on November 14, and it affected Voyager 1's ability to send back telemetry data, such as measurements from the spacecraft's science instruments or basic engineering information about how the probe was doing. [...] "It would be the biggest miracle if we get it back. We certainly haven't given up," said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in an interview with Ars. "There are other things we can try. But this is, by far, the most serious since I've been project manager."
Dodd became the project manager for NASA's Voyager mission in 2010, overseeing a small cadre of engineers responsible for humanity's exploration into interstellar space. Voyager 1 is the most distant spacecraft ever, speeding away from the Sun at 38,000 mph (17 kilometers per second). [...] The latest problem with Voyager 1 lies in the probe's Flight Data Subsystem (FDS), one of three computers on the spacecraft working alongside a command-and-control central computer and another device overseeing attitude control and pointing. [...] In November, the data packages transmitted by Voyager 1 manifested a repeating pattern of ones and zeros as if it were stuck, according to NASA. Dodd said engineers at JPL have spent the better part of three months trying to diagnose the cause of the problem. She said the engineering team is "99.9 percent sure" the problem originated in the FDS, which appears to be having trouble "frame syncing" data. [...] "It's likely somewhere in the FDS memory," Dodd said. "A bit got flipped or corrupted. But without the telemetry, we can't see where that FDS memory corruption is."
[...] "We have sheets and sheets of schematics that are paper, that are all yellowed on the corners, and all signed in 1974," Dodd said. "They're pinned up on the walls and people are looking at them. That's a whole story in itself, just how to get to the information you need to be able to talk about the commanding decisions or what the problem might be." [...] "It is difficult to command Voyager," Dodd said. "We don't have any type of simulator for this. We don't have any hardware simulator. We don't have any software simulator... There's no simulator with the FDS, no hardware where we can try it on the ground first before we send it. So that makes people more cautious, and it's a balance between getting commanding right and taking risks."
[...] The spacecraft's vast distance and position in the southern sky require NASA to use the largest 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at a Deep Space Network tracking site in Australia, one of the network's most in-demand antennas.
"The data rates are very low, and this anomaly causes us not to have any telemetry," Dodd said. "We're kind of shooting in the blind a little bit because we don't know what the status of the spacecraft is completely."
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AWS could rake in between $400 million and $1 billion a year from charging customers for public IPv4 addresses while migration to IPv6 remains slow.
AWS cited increasing scarcity and claimed the cost to acquire a single public IPv4 address for customer use had risen more than 300 percent over the past few years.
Fortunately, the charge is hardly ruinous – $0.005 (half a cent) per IP address per hour, which equates to a total cost of $43.80 per year for each public IPv4 address you have – excluding any IP addresses that you might own and opt to bring to AWS using Amazon's BYOIP (Bring Your Own IP) service.
However a technologist has done the calculations and estimated that across all users, this will add up to a sum of between $400 million and $1 billion a year for AWS. Not bad for something that was being offered completely free just a few days ago (and is still offered for 750 hours a month at no cost in the AWS free tier).
The source of the billion-dollar claim is Andree Toonk, founder and CEO of network services biz Border0, who is presumably trying to generate business for his own company.
Toonk used Amazon's own IP address range data to estimate that the cloud colossus has at least 131,932,752 IPv4 addresses. Based on the average price for an IPv4 address being about $35 at the time of writing, this means that AWS is sitting on about $4.6 billion, should it wish to divest itself of them.
He also used a script to ping all of the IPv4 addresses in order to gauge how many were "alive" within the AWS network and came up with an answer of about 6 million. But many instances on AWS will have a security policy to not respond to a ping packet, so the actual number of active IPv4 addresses could be double that.
Even with just those six million addresses, that's $262.8 million AWS will earn from charging for IPv4 in a year.
He forecast the headline $400 million to $1 billion figure by projecting a "conservative" estimate that between 10 percent and 30 percent of the IPv4 addresses (approximately 7.9 million) published in the AWS JSON are used for a year.
We asked AWS if it recognized any of these figures, and what the company itself estimated it would earn from charging customers for public IPv4 addresses, but it declined to answer, instead referring us to its original blog post disclosing the charges.
The general feeling among industry experts is that this is fair game, and customers should make plans to migrate to IPv6 if they don't like it – assuming their applications allow this, of course.
[...] "My view is that AWS has been smart in buying up IPv4 addresses, and this is a way for it to cash in until IPv6 adoption makes IPv4 redundant. It's just that organizations are not rushing to move to IPv6," he said.
Everyone knows we should be doing backups. While the standard these days is an online backup (too expensive for a full backup, I use it for important, small things,) or using an external hard drive, SSDs can lose their data after a few years of not being powered on and hard drives are complicated mechanical beasts susceptible to their grease hardening, bearings seizing, etc.
The best option if I want long term backups is to grab good quality blurays and a burner. Is anyone else out there doing this? How are you handling splitting up your data (who only has 32gb of data these days?) Do you just have a dedicated spot on your hard drive to stage backups before burning or are there some software tricks on modern computers like the old days to burn a single "file" across multiple discs? How far back a backup have you recovered, now that bluray's going on 20 years old?
Just because an object is around a corner doesn't mean it has to be hidden. Non-line-of-sight imaging can peek around corners and spot those objects, but it has so far been limited to a narrow band of frequencies. Now, a new sensor can help extend this technique from working with visible light to infrared. This advance could help make autonomous vehicles safer, among other potential applications.
Non-line-of-sight imaging relies on the faint signals of light beams that have reflected off surfaces in order to reconstruct images. The ability to see around corners may prove useful for machine vision—for instance, helping autonomous vehicles foresee hidden dangers to better predict how to respond to them, says Xiaolong Hu, the senior author of the study and a professor at Tianjin University in Tianjin, China. It may also improve endoscopes that help doctors peer inside the body.
The light that non-line-of-sight imaging depends on is typically very dim, and until now, the detectors that were efficient and sensitive enough for non-line-of-sight imaging could only detect either visible or near-infrared light. Moving to longer wavelengths might have several advantages, such as dealing with less interference from sunshine, and the possibility of using lasers that are safe around eyes, Hu says.
Now Hu and his colleagues have for the first time performed non-line-of-sight imaging using 1,560- and 1,997-nanometer infrared wavelengths. "This extension in spectrum paves the way for more practical applications," Hu says.
In the new study, the researchers experimented with superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors. In each device, a 40-nanometer-wide niobium titanium nitride wire was cooled to about 2 kelvins (about –271 °C), rendering the wire superconductive. A single photon could disrupt this fragile state, generating electrical pulses that enabled the efficient detection of individual photons.
The scientists contorted the nanowire in each device into a fractal pattern that took on similar shapes at various magnifications. This let the sensor detect photons of all polarizations, boosting its efficiency.
The new detector was up to nearly three times as efficient as other single-photon detectors at sensing near- and mid-infrared light. This let the researchers perform non-line-of-sight imaging, achieving a spatial resolution of roughly 1.3 to 1.5 centimeters.
Yifan Feng, Xingyu Cui, Yun Meng, Xiangjun Yin, Kai Zou, Zifan Hao, Jingyu Yang, and Xiaolong Hu, "Non-line-of-sight imaging at infrared wavelengths using a superconducting nanowire single-photon detector," Opt. Express 31, 42240-42254 (2023) https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.497802