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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 08:53 GMT
'X-ray software' uncovers the past
X-ray vision to see through walls has always been something which belongs in science fiction.

Allun Jones and his software
Allun Jones shows off software which unveils buildings' history
But a software program being developed by a company called the GeoInformation Group allows people to see under homes and peek through walls and floors to reveal what was there before the properties were built.

"With this software we can peel back the modern image to reveal what was there 50 years ago," the company's Managing Director Allun Jones told the BBC World Service programme Go Digital.

The system uses modern high-resolution aerial photographs combined with old aerial photographs to build up the picture.

Many of the older images were taken during the Second World War by the Luftwaffe to identify targets for bombing raids.

History uncovered

Mr Jones demonstrated the system to Go Digital, revealing that executive homes on the outskirts of Liverpool had actually been built on an old oil refinery.

The system has a high enough resolution to look under individual homes, and peeling back a house revealed the image of an oil storage tank beneath.

The system is not only useful for identifying potential sites of pollution but also in revealing history, says Mr Jones.

"We can accurately measure the exact location of structures such as gun emplacements.

"It is key for heritage or identifying contamination associated with them."

The company supplies both the aerial photographs and software to match them up.

It is already used widely by local authority planning departments, by utilities companies such as gas and electricity and the emergency services.

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