Scientists have developed portable "x-ray" radar which could help find terrorists hiding in a building or seek out people buried in an earthquake.
The new device has been developed in Cambridge
Staff working for Cambridge Consultants Ltd (CCL), of Cambridge, are now planning to develop products which can be used by the military and emergency services in situations such as sieges, urban warfare, fire and rescue.
The low-frequency radar has the ability to detect the precise location and movement of people inside a building - or simply breathing beneath rubble.
Positioned against a wall - or even some meters away - the system transmits low frequency radar pulses that will pass through building materials up to 25cm thick and detect objects and movement inside.
The research stems from the company's pioneering work in developing anti-collision radar for cars.
Exact position and height
On Wednesday, Gordon Oswald, CCL's associate director, said: "This radar delivers the kind of high-level location information that could really tip the balance in favour of rescuers in a broad range of time-critical situations, like the aftermath of an earthquake or explosion, or a hostage situation."
An array of antenna sensors allows the x-ray vision not only to assess a person's exact position - but also their height.
The system is so compact that it can be packaged in a battery-powered case the size of lap top computer, making it extremely portable.
The company is now trying to assemble a consortium of organisations interested in exploiting the technology in their operations.