That title might be surprising to you as I was also surprised when I saw it. The X-Ray Vision or at least quite close to it is a feature of the new OnePlus 8 Pro which seems to use the device’s infrared sensors in order to see through a small subset of black materials. But don’t be disappointed just yet after all, this is a smartphone not some gigantic X-Ray machine in medial labs.
But if you have one of the OnePlus 8 Pro smartphone then you can do the little experimentation by yourself by opening the camera application up and then swipe to the “Photochrom” color filter and then point it at some black object. While others have done the experimentation, the ability to see through black objects are could only go through thin black plastic that are somehow see-through if in the normal lighting from the other side of the object.
“Think things like TV remotes rather than the sturdier plastic of a high-end DSLR. It’s also hit or miss with clothing” reported The Verge which also experimented with it and found the filter to be selective.
Ben Geskin tried this on his Twitter account but others who have the device have also tried it out and there is in fact a video by Unbox Therapy which showed the filter in action while looking through an Apple TV Box, a Switch remote and Black T-Shirt.
But how does it work? The Verge reached out to OnePlus to see what they know, but the company declined to comment. However, it seems the process relies on the phone’s infrared sensors, which collect a type of radiation that’s invisible to the human eye.
Further explanation shows that Infrared sits above the visible light in the electromagnetic spectrum which is sometimes referred to as “Heat radiation” because it’s the way human feel its effects. The world is saturated in infrared, but because we don’t see it, we don’t usually think about it. About half of the energy that arrives on the Earth from the Sun arrives as infrared, for example.
Aside that, there are even special types of equipment which can capture infrared radiation which includes night vision goggles and thermal cameras that allows us to see through certain materials. Infrared passes through objects in a way visible light cannot. Firefighters are some of those that makes use of infrared cameras in order to see through smokes in burning buildings.
And with technology becoming more powerful, high-end smartphones are now incorporating the infrared technology into their devices and they seems to be able to do almost what those complex ones can as well. TrueDepth cameras on recent iPhones which uses infrared light to scan face FaceID also use this type of infrared sensor and they’re said to be hijackable to create see-through images as an app developer Guilherme Rambo has demonstrated (though it seems you need a jailbroken iPhone to do achieve).
The question that remains is will this create trouble for OnePlus, especially if the filter can be used to see through clothing with all the privacy problems that entails. In the Unbox Therapy video, it does seem like the filter can see through clothing, albeit in very limited conditions. A Reddit user confirmed the same thing. After all, there was a similar scandal in the 1990s when Sony was forced to recall a camcorder that included a night vision feature that could also be used to see through clothing.
But how sever the issue might be might be determined based on future software updates by OnePlus in order to control this issue especially if its a glitch.
Until then, enjoy looking inside your TV remote. If you have an 8 Pro and have experimented with the feature, drop some pictures below. We’ll update this story if and when we hear back from OnePlus.