Terapixel Images And See-through Cameras: Real Or Fake?


Once again it’s time for you, the sharp-eyed readers of Hack a Day, to decide whether the following video demonstrates technology at its finest, or if it is complete hogwash. This edition of Real or Fake? is brought to us by Hack a Day reader [Wizzard] who sent us a link to “The Invisible Camera

Watch the video embedded below to see the unveiling of this camera as well as a discussion of its new, revolutionary technology by its creator – photographer Chris Marquardt. The camera is composed of a simple, non-moving lens mounted in a completely transparent box made of specially polarized glass. This glass is supposed to align the ambient lighting, which amplifies the energy coming through the lens, in order to expose the special film they created for the camera.

The film was developed using standard film “combined with innovations in chemistry” to produce ultra-low sensitivity image media, which the creators are calling “Directionally Desensitized” film. This film can be handled in full light, as it is only sensitive to the high-energy light directed on its surface by the aforementioned lens. It is claimed that due to this special film, the camera goes beyond the Megapixel, past the Gigapixel, and captures images in Terapixels.

Now, call us skeptical, but isn’t it a bit early for April Fools jokes? We just can’t imagine any scenario where holding a piece of film in the sun as shown in the video would not cause it to be exposed in at least some areas due to the massive amounts of reflected light in the environment.

What’s your take?

125 thoughts on “Terapixel Images And See-through Cameras: Real Or Fake?

  1. Here’s a thought: analog film doesn’t use pixels. The image is made by microscopic crystals. The only way to increase resolution is to use larger film; there is no way to make the crystals any smaller. And if my memory is correct, the pixels in the highest resolution camera are nearing the same size as the analog crystals.

  2. “align the ambient lighting”, “amplifies the energy coming through the lens”, “combined with innovations in chemistry”, “Directionally Desensitized”.

    Sounds like part of the script from Star Trek TNG.

    Oh yeah, it’s fake for the same reason you couldn’t make yourself invisible and still be able to see – eyeballs (and so cameras) don’t work if the light gets into them through the wrong part.

    If the camera contained magically polarised glass… how come you can see right through it?

  3. It’s plausible.

    If the film is infrared-sensitive film.
    And the plastic is opaque in IR.
    And it’s using a pinhole lens which will (of course) pass IR.

    You’d get images similar to the ones posted on the website.

    The scenes showing the film being exposed to sunlight seem not right, but the camera seems plausible.

  4. Two things. Since normal light is scattered (e.g., has some component aligned with every orientation, you would not be able to handle the film in ambient light, since some light WOULD be aligned to expose it. Therefore, this is BS by contradiction. Second, there is NO REASON why the “energy” of the ambient light that is perpendicularly polarized would constructively interfere (i.e. amplify) with the light that supposedly is exposing the film. It would be just as likely to destructively interfere (i.e. attenuate). The net effect would be a degradation of the image, and you would get the film equivalent of tv “snow”.

    Also, if you listen carefully, the guy tells us outright that this is a fake when he is setting it up in the field. He says “the engineers that built this for me tell me that it is so strong, it’s bulletproof”. That’s a verbal wink; the thing is made of polycarbonate, aka bulletproof glass!

  5. Fake.

    – If you would manage to make such a directional film, it will still be exposed in sunlight because sunlight is omnidirectional (so also the required direction)

    – the camera looks like its made from polycarb. If it were polarised you would see it

    -the edges of the camera need to be covered if you were to align all the incoming light correctly

  6. I like how he took a plexiglass box and made the hackaday staff doubt whether or not it’s really an invisible camera.

    He performed his video really well though.
    (i like how light amplification can result in a lower ISO)

  7. @Matt C

    Yes you can make smaller film grain crystals in regular photographic film. You just…make smaller crystals. Grind the compounds more finely. There are films that no longer exist like Technical Pan that have absolutely mind-blowing resolution, but they were so slow as to be unusable except in bright sun.

    A 4×5 sheet (about as big as this camera appears to be) of tech pan would have far higher resolution than any single-shot digital camera in existence. You might be able to match it with a top-end scanning back but those can only take photos of still objects.

    A pinhole lens would never be able to resolve as much information as that film could record, but the film itself would work just fine.

  8. This item will work for Kodak Infrared film. I know I built one years ago for an exhibition. All that is required is:

    4 pieced Dichroic-IR rejection glass (Pilkinton K)
    1 0.5mm pin hole in small brass shim
    1 120 Format sheet film holder
    1 Pack Kodak Infra-red film B/W or AEROCHROME III Infrared Film 1443 for false color (Ex Stock as now discontinued)

    Lots of time and a very still subject as exposures are LONG.

  9. I’m an astrophysics grad student and I’ve done my share of image analysis and image detection techniques.
    Only 2 or 3 person noticed the most obvious: if the case is polarized, then it HAS to block at least 50% of the light coming through it, thus it would look like shaded glass. No matter what kind of polarization we’re talking about.

    Also, you don’t talk about pixels when using film instead of CCDs, unless you’re trying to vulgarise the concept. And assuming the film is 2,5 cm across (about 1 square inch), the size of the pixel is 2.5×10^-6 cm across, which is about 100 times the size of an atom, so it’s about the size of a big molecule, which is consistent with ordinary films.
    Also, using a pinhole is a good idea, unless you don’t know how to compute the fourrier transform of your picture… Which would be doable only with a digital image!

  10. Bulls put this on the ground.

    Should be good for a TSA grant if only to look between garment fibers using light from gravity waves.

    Just knowing this is being developed would make me feel safer. And no doubt, once bulls are told of this breakthrough they too would feel safer and lay down more of this technology.

  11. The guy in the begining is always looking to his left (This is what happens when you use the creative part of your brain) when he thinks about what he’s gonna say. By itself it doesn’t mean anything but by the nature of the video, it makes it less believable.

  12. There’s so many fake youtubes like that, I think there are too many, they drown out anything real and they waste time and once you have 10000 of them the joke loses impact.

  13. Great marketing.

    Now if only they worked for Canon or Nikon – that would make a lot more sense.

    Too bad this is all wasted on these morons though.

    Oh, and if you believe for even an instant that this is plausible, please do go back to your B. Arts classes ;)

  14. real cause of

    IR film + kick ass scanner

    btw , what is the best scanner in th world?

    fake cause of

    retarded to scan pinhole pics cause there never sharp
    + too bad acting 5:44

    @hack a day
    if we have to guess if it is real or fake
    you should put some mindblowing reals once in a wile

  15. if it were real, i would be expecting Terabyte Nano-SDüc anytime now. But it’s obviously not real. can my eye see in Terapixels? wouldn’t one Terapixel take up at least 1 terabyte of disk space? The main reason i say it’s fake is: they’re still using film like 21 months before Armageddon, claiming that the film captures images in ‘terapixels’, while film is analog and pixels be digital. if you could store ‘terapixels’ in that size, optically, then we would have Multi-terabyte optical disks, right now.

  16. From their site:

    “Please bookmark this page and come back on March 25 2011 at the time mentioned above. You will then find an online field test application form where you can leave your information. The application window will be open for one week.”

    In other words, the “field test” application window closes on April 1st.

  17. Totally fake! Totally BS! It may sounds more real when film cameras no longer exist and kids only uses digital camera..

    Field tester wanted? Nice way to collect e-mail address for spammer! (For people that are too dumb…)

  18. That is FREAKIN AWESOME!!!! I want one. How much? Seriously? Come on, don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining, and another thing this film they talk about wouldn’t require polarization. Fun idea and nice production though but totally fake.

    Anyone that knows a litle bit of Physics can tell you that this is a hoax.
    I’m sick and tired of this self proclaimed pseudo scientist making outrageous claims using some things that really exists (as polarized light) and making up such idiotic contraptions.
    The ambient light is scattered, yes, that is a fact, but that doesn’t stop it to pass trough polarized filters or films, in fact it is so scattered that eventualy some porcentage of it WILL pass right tru the filter.
    Anyway, I won’t even dignify this thing with an elaborated rant, I will only say that it might be bullet proof but it’s not BULSHIT proof.

  20. Come on HaD, every “Real or Fake” post you’ve hosted has been decidedly FAKE. Sure it generates a lot of reply posts, but if your staff REALLY can’t tell, then they’re not worthy of washing Osgeld’s socks.

  21. Tremendously fake and shame on you for asking with a single mote of seriousness, but the concept isn’t completely impossible. Given highly specific band-gap filter coatings for tight R/G/B wavelengths and transparent (i.e. low-sensitivity) photodetectors, you could build a “glass camera.”

    You treat the outside of the box with all three filter coats, drill a hole for the full-spectrum lens, and cover the sensor with a Bayer pattern of R/G-, G/B-, and R/B-coated tiles to obtain a color image. Besides the obvious problem of sensitivity, you’d get a bizarre color balance, like replacing daylight with the harshest of flourescents.

  22. Not only does it all look like hog wash, Sebastian Braun doesn’t appear to work for the Max Planck Institute. I couldn’t find any publications that indicated that he was a physicist or engineer.

  23. Haha!

    Love it!

    What’s really funny are the many ‘serious’ comments about ‘why’ it cannot be real…

    Did nobody notice than April 1st in exactly one week after the registration process is open?

    From the website:

    “come back on March 25 2011 … You will then find an online field test application form … The application window will be open for one week”

    The BBC did a brilliant spoof in 2010 when they talked about reactivating a horse gene that had been inactive for many thousands of years… all very scientific and plausible, no details given until the moment they brought out a unicorn.


  24. Yeah, I’m with Rob in Belfast. After reading all of the comments — did anyone notice one single thing in the video that was actually plausible? No? I didn’t think so. Even the details are all completely and obviously wrong, starting with the perfectly clear “polarized” glass and going from there.

    This is not a hoax. It’s a joke.

  25. I think, their hole website is something like a study on how many people will participate in their field test. Maybe to see how many technically interested internet users will walk into their trap. That’s a pretty cool idea!

  26. FAKE
    this device is supposed to amplify light
    -> that means cloning photons (in frequency and phase)
    -> this is possible and very common (laser) but always requires energy (E = hv is the energy of a photon)
    -> so, where is the cable,battery,nuclear power station, etc… ?

  27. @anton photons can collide but they require much energy (and afaik it isn’t done succesfully yet). a Photon is a strange ellement as it’s antipart is a photon too. Wich means that colliding two photons (if you are able to) would result in only a huge amount of energy and two photons gone..

  28. Wow people – if this was my first time reading hackaday I would assume it was full of nothing but whiny bi*ches…oh wait, it is.

    Are you all THAT offended that they posted this?

    “Zomg they wasted my time!!!one I don’t come here for this stuff are you insulting our intelligence?”

    Please. It takes 30 seconds to read the story and about 30 more seconds to realize that the video is full of crap. Hell, you likely wasted more time writing pissing and moaning in the comments than you did watching the video!

    Maybe my sarcasm detector is better than most, but it sounds like the guys at hackaday do not believe this craptastic video either. I far prefer a one time stinkfest like this over a *groan* full day of april fools crap from the likes of slashdot and others *groan*

    Its funny to see people threaten to not read any more but they always show up in the comments section time and time again! gluttons for punishment I guess. lol.

  29. “come back on March 25 2011 … You will then find an online field test application form … The application window will be open for one week”

    And one week later is april 1st.
    What would be happen week later? Big Joke!

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