-Ray Specs are an American novelty item, purported to allow the user to see through or into solid objects. Instead, though, the glasses merely create an optical illusion; no X-rays are involved. The current version is sold under the name X-Ray Spex; an essentially identical product is sold under the name X-Ray Gogs.
X-Ray Specs consist of an outsized pair of eyeglasses with plastic frames and white cardboard “lenses” printed with concentric red circles, and emblazoned with the legend “X-RAY VISION”. They are not designed to be inconspicuous. “Specs”, a truncation of the word “spectacles”, is a somewhat archaic term for eyeglasses.
The lenses consist of two layers of cardboard with a small hole about 6mm (.25 inch) in diameter punched through both layers. The user views objects through the holes. A feather is embedded between the layers of each lens. The vanes of the feathers are so close together that light is diffracted, causing the user to receive two slightly offset images. For instance, if viewing a pencil, one would see two offset images of the pencil. Where the images overlap, a darker image is obtained, supposedly giving the illusion that one is seeing the graphite embedded within the body of the pencil. As may be imagined, the illusion is not particularly sustainable.
X-Ray Specs were long advertised with the slogan “See the bones in your hand, see through clothes!”
The claim is patently absurd, of course; besides the unlikelihood of a safe and functional x-ray device selling for about US$1, x-ray detectors require an x-ray source.
Nevertheless, enough customers — intrigued by the salacious possibilities suggested by the slogan “…see through clothes!” — have gambled a dollar or two on the off-chance that Superman‘s similarly sourceless x-ray vision might somehow be obtained through use of the device.
Part or even most of the novelty value lies in provoking the object of the wearer’s attentions. These subjects, if unable to be entirely sure that the device did not indeed allow the wearer to compromise their modesty, were liable to respond with a variety of amusing reactions.
A previous product called the Wonder Tube worked in a similar way. Instead of glasses, the device was in the form of a small telescope.
Actual see-through devices
- Thermal imaging goggles are used by various military and police organizations. They are intended for night use, but the longer wavelength of infrared light allows the user to see images through some materials that are impervious to visible light.
- The Advanced Intelligence Company, Ltd. manufactures a device called X-Reflect Glasses which is claimed to allow the user to partly see through certain types of clothing. These goggles are a variation of thermal imaging goggles, but are intended specifically for daylight voyeurism. The device retails for US$2400 as of 2005.
- Devices currently in development for airport security are able to see through clothing quite well. These are true X-ray devices, using backscatter X-rays. The devices are not portable and use a typical X-ray display screen, not goggles.
- Terahertz imaging uses electromagnetic radiation in the terahertz or far infrared range to see through objects in a similar manner to X-rays. It is currently a very expensive new technology, and is being tested for use in customs inspection, firefighting, search and rescue and medical imaging.
So apparently a security company named Qinetiq has developed millimeter wave technology which allows specialized X-Ray scanners to see through clothes. While this is an interesting story from a privacy and security perspective, it is overshadowed by the pictures used to demonstrate the technology. Apparently this technology has been tuned and specialized to call out passengers with unwieldy erections. This just goes to show that sex always sells…. “is that a huge knife in your newspaper, or are you just happy to see me.”
|Dancers X-rayed at clubs|
NIGHTCLUBBERS could be subjected to mobile X-ray scanners that see through their clothes in police raids on drug-dealer havens.
The X-ray machine shows the body with blurry detail of the anatomy and anything concealed beneath clothing.
Police in Britain said the images were “very graphic” but hailed their use as a fantastic success.
Victoria Police are monitoring the device, which has been used to arrest dealers and armed thugs at London clubs.
Low radiation X-rays penetrate a quarter of a centimetre into the suspect’s skin. It can reveal drugs, knives, guns and explosives under clothing.
In about six seconds the scanner produces a 360 degree image of the body without clothing.
Suspects’ bodies show up as a light colour on a monitor while foreign objects are dark.
A raid in London this week lead to more than 30 arrests for cannabis possession, carrying a knife and handling of stolen goods.
Suspects were reportedly given the option of a strip search or using the X-ray, with most choosing the machine.
The scanner is believed to be in use around the world in airports, court buildings, prisons and government buildings.
British police claim the radiation from the machine is 1500 times weaker than a medical X-ray.
The machine, which is transported on a large truck, is worth more than $300,000 and weighs about half a tonne.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said police were monitoring use of the new device.
“We will be watching and seeing how other agencies use it,” she said.
But the president of Liberty Victoria, Greg Connellan, said the group would strongly oppose the machine’s use.
“This is very much similar to a strip search,” he said. “This is intrusive and strips away someone’s dignity . . . it is a shift towards searching people at will.”
Mr Connellan said he was also concerned about the potential health implications of exposing people to radiation.
“We have seen in Victoria the widespread searching of people,” he said.
“This is not appropriate — no more appropriate than what they did at Tasty nightclub — just because you are going to use a machine.”
Patrons were strip searched in a raid on Tasty Nightclub, in Flinders Lane, almost a decade ago.
The raid cost the police more than $6 million in payouts and led to disciplinary action.