The people that shaped the future

In five years, new imaging devices using hyperimaging technology and AI will help us see broadly beyond the domain of visible light by combining multiple bands of the electromagnetic spectrum to reveal valuable insights or potential dangers that would otherwise be unknown or hidden from view. Most importantly, these devices will be portable, affordable and accessible, so superhero vision can be part of our everyday experiences.




More than 99.9 percent of the electromagnetic spectrum cannot be observed by the naked eye. Over the last 100 years, scientists have built instruments that can emit and sense energy at different wavelengths. Today, we rely on some of these to take medical images of our body, see the cavity inside our tooth, check our bags at the airport, or land a plane in fog. However, these instruments are incredibly specialized and expensive and only see across specific portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.


In five years


A view of the invisible or vaguely visible physical phenomena all around us could help make road and traffic conditions clearer for drivers and self-driving cars. For example, using millimeter wave imaging, a camera and other sensors, hyperimaging technology could help a car see through fog or rain, detect hazardous and hard-to-see road conditions such as black ice, or tell us if there is some object up ahead and its distance and size. Cognitive computing technologies will reason about this data and recognize what might be a tipped over garbage can versus a deer crossing the road, or a pot hole that could result in a flat tire.


How this could change the world

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Health and nutrition

Take images of food to show its nutritional value or whether it's safe to eat.

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A hyperimage of a pharmaceutical drug could be used to determine if it’s fraudulent.

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Hyperimaging technology could help a car see through fog or rain and detect black ice or if something is in the road.

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Combine hyperimaging and augmented reality to create video games that allow users to see through objects.


IBM Research scientist Alberto Valdes Garcia connects wires on a millimeter wave phased array sensor, a device used to experiment with hyperimaging technology.


IBM scientists are today building a compact hyperimaging platform that “sees” across separate portions of the electromagnetic spectrum in one platform to potentially enable a host of practical and affordable devices and applications.

Embedded in our phones, these same technologies could take images of our food to show its nutritional value or whether it’s safe to eat. A hyperimage of a pharmaceutical drug or a bank check could tell us what’s fraudulent and what’s not. What was once beyond human perception will come into view.

hyper imager platform

Close up of a millimeter-wave phased-array sensor, one of the hardware building blocks of a portable hyperimager platform.

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Members of IBM's millimeter wave technology research team. From left to right: Xiaoxiong Gu, Yahya Tousi, Alberto Valdes-Garcia and Mehmet Soyuer.

What is IBM Research disrupting today?