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What are X-Ray Phones?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree

X-ray phones are basically mobile phones with transparent casing, enabling a person to see the wiring, chips, and other inner gadgets that make the phone work. One example of this type of phone is the Japanese x-ray phone by a company named KDDI, which released pictures of the upcoming phone in late 2010. Another x-ray phone that caused a stir among mobile phone users is the fictional 5005 x-ray phone. For a while, rumors were spread that this was an x-ray phone in a different way; it allowed the user to look through people’s clothing and homes. This claim is completely untrue, however, and the image proof posted on hundreds of websites across the Internet is simply edited to support the scam.

The Japanese x-ray phone developed by Tokujin Yoshioka at KDDI attracted attention because the phone’s interior parts were specifically designed to be displayed through the transparent case. Though the case is see-through, it is shaded red, blue, or black. These x-ray phones were considered a rare breed because most mobile phone manufacturers focus on designing a visually pleasing case rather than displaying its innards.

Woman holding an optical disc
Woman holding an optical disc

While the 5005 x-ray phone is an obvious scam to people with a firm understanding of how x-radiation works, the responsible prankster managed to trick many people into thinking it was real. A photo of proof was published that showed the phone pointing at a clothed young woman, but the picture on the phone’s display was of the woman completely nude. This image was manipulated with a photo editor, or the supposed x-ray photo was taken before capturing the photo of the woman clothed, or both.

In 2010, it was announced that a Nokia phone application was in development that sought to mimic the concept of x-ray vision with a phone in regard to buildings. The idea is that, by utilizing global positioning systems (GPS) and Google Earth data, the phone could be pointed in the direction of a nearby building and display a picture of the building behind it. This type of application is referred to as augmented reality, which basically means that the real world is altered in some way to include additional information.

In conclusion, true x-ray phones—phones that allow the user to see through things like clothing and walls—are mostly fictional. Mobile phones with transparent casing and applications that mimic x-ray vision are likely the closest an individual can get to x-ray phones until technology advances further. Until then, any claims of a company selling real x-ray phones should be met with a healthy amount of skepticism.

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