This isn't just a snake cam that bends around a corner, like the one you'd use in a Splinter Cell game. MIT Media Lab's Camera Culture Group is developing a camera that can capture 3D images of figures without any direct line of sight. The camera uses the same principles that sonar does for sound--capturing and processing the photons that scatter as light bounces around objects and walls. The researchers call it Femto-Photography. Nature's report on the camera explains the science behind the camera:
They fire a pulse of laser light at a wall on the far side of the hidden scene, and record the time at which the scattered light reaches a camera. Photons bounce off the wall onto the hidden object and back to the wall, scattering each time, before a small fraction eventually reaches the camera, each at a slightly different time. It's this time resolution that provides the key to revealing the hidden geometry. The position of the 50-femtosecond (that’s 50 quadrillionths of a second) laser pulse is also changed 60 times, to gain multiple perspectives on the hidden scene.
Nature's video does a good job explaining how the camera works.
Right now, the camera takes several minutes to generate an image, and the resulting model is very low resolution, but the researchers hope that the technology will eventually be advanced enough to use in disaster rescue planning, medical imaging, and even car navigation. For much more information on Femto-Photography, check out its MIT Media Lab page here.