Nokia Lumia 1020 captures image of objects obstructed from view

The world of photography is incredible. It's a feat to capture the world and view any scene at a later date in glorious high definition, but it's another to further develop the technology to produce some extraordinary results.

We are now learning that physicists have managed to use the Nokia Lumia 1020 to capture a photo and reveal objects hidden behind a piece of frosted glass.

Using single-pixel imaging, an image taken from behind frosted glass captures an entirely random pattern of light, but should a sequence of images taken this way be reconstructed, it is possible to crunch the data from numerous images and produce an image of the concealed object. Usually this would include a rather powerful computer to handle the image processing.

Ori Katz and a handful of colleagues at the Institut Langevin in Paris have managed to achieve similar results using nothing more than a smartphone – the Lumia 1020. The team treats data from each pixel as an individual image and look for the correlation between all the images. There's no need for a lens as the light doesn't require to be refocused.

Lumia 1020 Camera Sensor

The Lumia 1020 camera sensor

Smartphones in general cause issues for this type of image processing as lenses are unnecessary (requiring a pinhole aperture) and each device produces compressed jpeg images, but luckily these files can still be used. The end results are reportedly impressive, with images reconstructed to reveal objects behind onion skin and even chicken breast tissue.

"And they even produce images using reflected light (as opposed to transmitting light). To prove this, these guys recorded the light from an object that was scattered off a wall covered in white paint. Sure enough, the resulting image revealed the object, even though it was essentially around a corner from the camera."

Lumia 1020

It's fairly revolutionary technology with many possible applications that include space exploration with orbiting observatories and medical imaging. Imagine the frosted glass being soft tissue and having the ability to photograph an object just beneath the tissue without the need for x-rays or exploratory surgery.

The added bonus is that a Windows Phone was utilized in the development, which will allow scientists to scale down imaging equipment and be more cost efficient.

Source: Medium; Thanks, Guy, for the tip!

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

58 Comments
  • What?
  • Yeah, I'm right there with ya.
  • I'm glad it wasn't just me.
  • All I want to know is why and how I can get rid of the yellowish tint... The camera on the 1020 is supposed to be a selling point!
    Everytime I try and shoot a picture I have to ask whoever I'm taking a picture of to hold on and stay still while I fumble with settings. I LOVE WP and have never owned any other smartphone, but they really need to address this. The 1020 can not take pictures instantly. And it pains me but my brother's iPhone 5s does this almost perfectly....
  • Same. The yellow tint ruined this phone for me. 41 mp all for nothing.
  • Must be a defect in your phone. See if you can get it exchanged. My 1020 takes beautiful pictures.
  • X2! Same here...
  • Mine does too. Except indoors & when the flash is used. & I would be happy to exchange it but I've had it since the first day it came out & I was informed that all Lumia 1020s had that same problem.
  • Contact Nokia to exchange your phone.
  • No, the yellow tint exists in your phone. Its not a bug, its on purpose straight from juha alakarhu himself. Its goal is to maintain some warmth to the photos. However, they overdid it.
  • Who's Juha Alakarhu? ._.
  • He's the mayan "god" who promised to return in the year 2012.  Most people didn't notice, but he did return to become the head of imaging technology at Nokia.  Apparently, it's his thing.  Said something about "temples and technology"?  I dunno.  
  • Rofl. Thank you for clearing that up. xD
  • Adjust your white balance until it looks right.
  • This^^^
  • White balance isn't accurate. Try shooting in fluorescent lighting for example. Its devastating. You can adjust your WB all day, its broken. That's a fact. Not just some phones. ALL!. some are to ignorant to even notice. I myself am a professional photographer I do get paid for my photos and I do sell pictures. I've had photos in magazines. The WB and color accuracy on this phone isn't good. I can also tell you they ruined high ISO completely. Not with noise, but with the tone mapping done. See for yourself. Shoot a photo at iso800 then change the ISO to 1600. Should be the exact same exposure, however the ISO 1600 photo is dark and junk. I've brought this issue to Nokia and they told me it was because people complained about low light shots being to bright. Go figure that one.
  • Thank you!
  • indeed, I agree with you. I also have the Nokia 808 Pureview and when compared with the 1020, I dont experience the yellow hue in my photos. 
  • Are you using a case? Try taking the case off and test it. I have no yellowish tint issues.
  • I have the 1020 but don't have the problem you describe. It almost sounds like there is a plastic film on your lens.
  • I have a charging case on it but that shouldn't effect the pictures. To better describe the problem let's say I'm out with friends and want to take a group pic indoors. When pressing the camera button all the settings are set to auto but when taking a picture in auto a yellowish tint shows on the picture. Even after trying each of the white balance settings at best it looks bluish! Maybe it's cause I'm not a pro photographer, but I was under the impression anyone could use this camera with little to no effort. Without having to adjust each setting. Which isn't a bad thing if u want to learn about lighting, ISO, and shutter speed but for the regular "photographer" that I am I need something less complicated.
  • Try using a different camera app.  
  • Same.
  • Change your white balance before taking the shot... The "Fluro" option works a treat... (^_-)-☆
  • My phone was like that when I got it. After updating to gdr3 and updating the Nokia camera app its been fine
  • Hahaha me too :D
  • Basically, you are taking a picture of something through a non-clear film.  The film will naturally deflect light, which is why it's not simply clear.  This technology looks at how the light is deflected on a per-pixel basis to look for patterns and re-assemble the image that is behind the film. It is essentially using a standard camera to take a picture you'd normally need an x-ray style device to achieve. 
  • The "seeing" around corners is just neat. Imagine the spy orginiazation uses for this. Seeing through frosted glass into rooms, hiding a camera in around a corner, etc
  • Thanks---that clicked it for me. i was lost for a bit there!
  • Immense. And on a similar note, can't wait for the new improved 1020, hopefully later on this year.
  • Things escalated quickly for 1020
  • Wow, my very own x-ray Lumia 1020 :P
  • I know, right? When will the app be in the store?
  • The epic phone camera. No words.
  • A Nokia just does not stop amazing
  • This is some amazing performance by Lumia 1020... Impressive
  • Astonishing! All the time and r & d spent on creating that 41 mp lens has created a beast. Cant wait to see where this leads :)
  • *claps* for the rhyme ❕
  • I'm gonna have to read that again :\
  • X2!
  • Go 1020!!! I love this phone. I love that its making its mark in the scientific realm as it has in the photography realm. This phone takes AWESOME PICTURES.
    Check out some sample pics! thebossentertainment.weebly.com
  • I really want to understand what I just read.. but reading this on a 5 minute break at work is not conducive to scientific understanding.
  • In short...enhance!!
  • Yes, enhance! http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxq9yj2pVWk
  • Super enhance, and uncrop! http://youtu.be/sp77AjBdlEc
  • When can we download the app?
  • Xray vision? Wow i m getting this phone.....
  • Got to get hold of this tech to reprocess pictures of my girl friend in shower taken through frosted glass.
  • the ultimate perv :3
  • I have a 1020, no yellow tint here. You have a defective phone.
  • And pervs rejoice as they will buy this phone and head immediately to the beach to test this ability with bikinis. ;)
  • We will see tits :)
  • My wife had the same problem, the protective case was causing the image to look yellowish. Took the case off, no problem. If that doesn't work take it back straight away
  • Whoa, THAT is cool. also, it could be great if they implemented that in cars for THICK fog.
  • This is amazing goes to show the 1020 is more than a "glorified point and shoot", to quote a fellow colleague. This also should raise the 1020's profile as I imagine they will publish a paper on their findings :). Also the prospect of actually seeing below skin tissue without an x-ray is pretty much mind blowing. Is there a video of this experiment? I want to use it as a yard stick to slap some sense into some blubbering baboons (colleagues and friends who think the world revolves are their own feet) that are so far up their own behinds to reason with lol.
  • So, now the 1020 will be able to take photos of things behind a layer of tissue??? Hmm... After that app comes out, most 1020 users would be perverts. If you know what I mean.. ;) ;)
  • Microsoft totally needs to buy the patent rights to this tech, and then get it into their new Lumias.
  • Well look at Oppo, with their over-sampling to a 50mp image. Imagine what this lens and sensor set up could do - though i would wager this needs an updated processor. OPPO are using a 13 or 16 mp sensor (believe it is 13, exmor from Sony) - what could you do, oversampling this monster???