A camera that can see through people's clothing at distances of up to 80 feet has been developed to help detect weapons, drugs and explosives. The camera could be deployed in railway stations, shopping centers and other public spaces.
Although it can see objects under clothes, its designers say the images do not show anatomical details. However, it is likely to increase fears that Britain has become a surveillance society.
The new technology, known as the T5000 system, has attracted interest from police forces, train companies and airport operators as well as government agencies.
It has been developed by ThruVision, an Oxfordshire-based company spun out from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, one of the British government's leading physics research centers.
It was designed for use in spacecraft and astronomy but researchers soon realized that cameras capable of seeing through clouds of cosmic dust could also see through clothing.