Well, here’s a digital camera trick we’ve not seen in the smartphone before: X-ray vision. Or even, at least, something that looks very much like this. It’s a feature of the new OnePlus 8 Pro, which usually seems to use the phone’s infrared detectors to see through a small subset associated with black materials.
If you’ve got a OnePlus 8 Professional and want to try it out for yourself, just open the camera app, swipe to the “Photochrom” color filter, plus point it some black items.
Fair warning: we tried the filter ourselves and it is really quite selective. It only ideal for very thin black plastic that’s already a little see-through in the correct light. Think things like TV remotes rather than the sturdier plastic of a sophisticated DSLR. It’s also hit or even miss with clothing.
We first saw this trick through Ben Geskin on Twitter (above) but lots of people have got since demonstrated it. There’s the great video from Unbox Therapy (below) which shows the filter for, looking through an Apple TV package, the Switch remote, and even a thin black T-Shirt.
But how does it work? We’ve provided to OnePlus to see what they understand (and confirm whether or not it was a good intentional feature), but it seems the procedure relies on the phone’s infrared detectors, which collect a type of radiation that’s invisible to the human eye.
Infrared sits right above noticeable light in the electromagnetic spectrum, and it is sometimes referred to as “heat radiation,” because that’s how we feel its effects. The planet is saturated in infrared, yet because all of us don’t see it, we don’t usually think about it. About half from the energy that arrives on the World from the Sun arrives as infrared, for example.
Special types of gear can capture infrared radiation, which includes night vision goggles and heat cameras. This allows you to see through certain materials, since infrared passes through them in a method visible light (which is all our own eyes perceive) cannot. Firefighters, for example, use infrared cameras to see via smoke into burning buildings.
As high-end phones start integrating infrared sensors too, it seems they could be used for this same purpose. Plus it’s not just the OnePlus 6 Pro that can do it. The TrueDepth camera on recent iPhones, designed to use infrared light to scan the face for FaceID, can also be hijacked to make see-through images, as app creator Guilherme Rambo has demonstrated (though it seems you need a jailbroken iPhone to perform this).
The question that will remains is will this develop trouble for OnePlus, especially if the particular filter can be used to see through clothing with the privacy problems that entails. In the particular Unbox Therapy video, it does seem like the filter can see through clothing, even if in very limited conditions. A Reddit user confirmed the same thing.
Depending on the severity of the problem, OnePlus might have to restrict the feature by way of a software update. After all, there was an identical scandal in the 1990s when Sony was forced to recall a camcorder that included the night vision feature that could become used to see through clothing.
Until then, enjoy looking inside your TELEVISION remote. If you have an 8 Professional and have experimented with the feature, fall some pictures below. We’ll upgrade this story if and when we listen to back from OnePlus.