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Naked scanner apps to see through clothes: how they work?

Posted on 2015-10-01 20:05:00 by Giuseppe Anzalone - 0 Comments

Having a pair of glasses to see through clothing has been the dream of every kid of my generation. In a time when mobile phones did not exist, teen magazines were filled with advertisements that tried to sell you X-Ray glasses.

Image 4
They were thick-rimmed glasses with concentric circles drawn in lieu of lenses; they looked more like clown glasses rather that technological tools.

Even though they were obviously a hoax, there were people who bought them and told lies saying that they actually worked in order to justify the unnecessary purchase. Whatever you could really see through those bottom-bottle lenses, it still remains a mystery to me.

After many years, things have not changed much. The advent of smartphones has revived a glimmer of hope for all those who have been disappointed by the hoax glasses. I believe the illusion comes basically from the fact that most people use their smartphones with a poor awareness of the technology behind them. Perhaps they really believe that their phone's powerful camera is able to see through clothes. Hence, I take this opportunity to debunk every myth: there are no apps that allow you to see through clothes, nor there are apps able to transform your phone into an X-Ray scanner.

It is not possible to create an App for everything. There are some technological limits that can't be overcome.

Why are these Apps an hoax?

You are still not convinced they are an hoax? I'll explain why! The human eye is sensitive to electromagnetic radiations with a wavelength range that goes from 400 nanometers (blue area) to 700 nanometers (red area). This range of wavelengths identifies what it's commonly called “light”. The sensors used by cameras (CCD or CMOS) are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation with a spectrum slightly wider, which ranges from about 300 nanometers (the area in which begins the ultraviolet) to 1200 nanometers (infrared zone).

Image 2

To perform X-Ray scans you need a source that can generate these rays and, rest assured that no smartphone has one. Moreover, since the wavelengths of the X-rays are below 10 nanometers, the camera's sensors are unable to detect such radiations.

In order for the sensor to faithfully reconstruct the colors,  it is overlapped with filters that mitigate the ultraviolet and infrared rays. On the sensor is also placed a microscopic matrix of colored filters (red, green and blue) which emulates the behavior of the cones of our eyes. The better is the quality of our camera, the more its sensitivity will be similar to that of the human eye.

So, give up hope of seeing things through your smartphone that you are not able to see with your own eyes.

If a friend of yours has convinced you he/she has taken pictures like the ones that follow, be assured that they are photomontages. There are Apps that fuse a picture you took with the image of an X-ray or with the image of a woman in a bikini.

Image 3

Why is it better to not install them?

Having ascertained that these are hoaxes, or if you want to be more tolerant we can call them jokes, there's one more reason to stay away from these applications: they are often full of very intrusive ads, and in some cases they even contain trojan. For example, we recently removed from TorrApk a very popular app called "Naked Scanner" because it contained too invasive advertising.

[Translation by Isabella]


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Giuseppe Anzalone
Hello, I am Giuseppe, electrical engineer and programmer. I've been working in the industrial automation field since 2004, designing electronic boards and developing software for real-time control. For some years now, I'm also strongly involved in web-developing and in IT security. What else... oh yeah, I'm addicted to free climbing!
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