I'm looking through you, where did you go?
I thought I knew you, what did I know?
You don't look different, but you have changed.
I'm looking through you, you're not the same.
"I'm Looking Through You," Rubber Soul, Lennon/McCartney, 1965.
In a previous blog article, Boom Chameleon without the Boom!, I noted that the boomless chameleon was the ultimate stud finder. Recall that the boomless chameleon got its name by being a boom chameleon without the boom. Both the boom chameleon and the boomless chameleon display design data in relation to movement of the physical display. That's why we joked that it could be the ultimate stud finder. You could load the design of a room you were in, turn off the visibility of the walls, and see the studs behind the walls as you moved about the room. While the technology for the boomless chameleon has recently become very inexpensive, a web cam hooked to a laptop, the idea is not new.
We were having another phone line added to our first floor conference room at our facility in San Rafael. Autodesk Labs is on the third floor of this building. Autodesk Labs programmer, John Schmier, got us to go downstairs to witness the ultimate rebar finder in action. The contractors adding the phone line wanted to avoid having to cut the rebar in the floor of our building. So they put paper down on the floor. They then allowed a device to crawl along the floor and map what was underneath in the cement below. As the device crawled, it measured the density of the surface underneath. The results were displayed on a Panasonic Toughbook laptop. The contractor marked the paper to indicate the locations of the rebar as identified by the crawler.
The signal returned by the crawler was very noisy:
Despite the noise, the signal was sufficient enough for the contractors to do their jobs. Just imagine if the picture looked like this instead:
Marveling at hardware-based solutions that software-based solutions aspire to is alive in the lab.