Smartphones can do so many things and have about a zillion uses. They are cameras, computers, radios, GPS devices, word processors, televisions, music players and gaming devices, to name a few.

One breakthrough, however, could turn them into yet another mobile gadget: X-ray machines.

Scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas have been working on an imaging chip that gives smartphones the ability to see through clothing, paper and even walls. The chip works by measuring “terahertz” light waves that allow the user to see through non-transparent surfaces.

The technology could potentially be used across a wide spectrum of industries and occupations, including paramedics, contractors, oncologists and repairmen.

The technology is also more accessible than you think. The scientists developed the chip to make it small and affordable and able to work on almost any smartphone. In fact, electrical engineering professor Kenneth O said the chip is small enough to simply place it on the back of the cell phone in order to use it.

Of course, there are some obvious concerns about just giving anyone the ability to see through anything. O said the technology will only allow someone to see through things by placing the device 10 centimeters from the desired object. Don’t pretend that you’re not disappointed.

[The Los Angeles Times]