Real-time, Passive Non-Line-of-Sight Imaging with Thermal Camera by Exploiting Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function

Tech ID: 31698 / UC Case 2019-642-0


UCLA researchers in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering have developed a Non-line-of-sight (NLOS) Imaging System using low cost thermal cameras that enable 3D recovery of NLOS heat source for imaging around corners.


Non-line-of-sight (NLOS) imaging provides the ability to look around corners and has gained significant interest in recent years. Current NLOS technologies utilizes visible light, recovering hidden 2D images with a limited field of view, dependent on the imaged geometries and the lighting conditions. A more potent NLOS imaging system is urgently needed to advance many of the current search and navigation technologies.


UCLA researchers in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in collaboration with MIT Media lab, have developed a Non-Line-of-Sight imaging system using low cost thermal cameras to exploit bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) of a corner wall. Passive 3D recovery of NLOS heat source (i.e. object of interest) was achieved for the fist time. The integration of thermal cameras utilizes the unique BRDF properties of the long-wave IR, granting both technical advantages such as geometry independence and robustness under ambient light, and foreseeable commercial values for a massive upscale.


  • Autonomous vehicle navigation
  • Military object detection 
  • Search-and-rescue operations 
  • Robotics


  • Improved signal-to-noise ratio 
  • Lower cost 
  • Larger field of view 
  • Enhanced depth of resolution 
  • Scene geometry independent 
  • Robust under ambient light

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Patent Status

Patent Pending


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  • Kadambi, Achuta

Other Information


Non-line-of-sight, see around the corner, auto navigation, self-driving car, security, hidden object, algorithm, imaging, thermal, cameras, Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function

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