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Snake Eyes Introduction
Source: PRO AV Magazine
Publication date: September 1, 2006
By Tim Kridel
Fiber optic cable transmits light, but can it detect it, too? Yes, according to a group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who have developed glass fibers that can measure the direction, intensity, and phase of light. The technology eventually could be tweaked to detect sound, too.
Here's how it works: Each of the 1-millimeter photodetecting fibers looks like those found in standard fiber optic cables, except that it has a “gut” of metal electrodes and semiconductor material running the length of its inside. When light hits the glass surface, it produces an electrical signal that triggers the detection process. These electrical signals are then fed into a standard PC that processes that information to determine each light beam's direction. For example, the system could track the movement of a laser pointer as it moves across a projection screen embedded with fibers.
The fibers can detect light beams coming from any direction, so unlike conventional optical systems — such as camera arrays — they have a much larger field of view. However, a single fiber can't detect the light beam's angle of incidence. To overcome that limitation, the MIT researchers fashioned the fibers into a spherical array 30 centimeters in diameter.
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