What handyman hasn't wished for the power to see through walls and know if that drill will hit wire or pipe? Massachusetts-based Walleye Technologies plans to offer that capability in late 2009 with handheld microwave cameras that see past the surface. "It's been known for some time that microwave technology can be used to generate images," says CEO Chris Adams, noting that the primary obstacle to Superman-like vision has always been price. "We were able to reduce the cost of the key components from a couple of thousand dollars to a few dollars, which brings it in line with what consumers will be willing to spend." After some initial help from industrial-design firm Altitude, the first Walleye camera on store shelves is expected to be a construction tool. Walleye is also exploring other applications for the technology, including handheld security cameras for peering into suspect boxes — no superhero tights required.
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A version of this article appeared in the February 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.