"You make a better wall than a window." Remember that old saying? It was something you'd spout off to someone while he or she was obstructing your view of whatever it was that you were trying to see. Several optics companies are rendering the expression obsolete.
For example, Camero's Xaver 800 product uses microwave radar to penetrate walls and project 3-D imaging of whatever's hiding behind those walls. According to the company, regular old drywall, clay brick, cinder block and even rebar-reinforced concrete structures, among others, are no match for the Xaver 800; although just like Superman had his kryptonite, the device can't see through solid, continuous metal.
When in use, the device takes up an area of about 33 by 33 by 6 inches (84 by 84 by 15 centimeters) and weighs close to 33 pounds (15 kilograms) [source: Camero].
Other companies are also getting into the X-ray vision business. Physical Optics Corporation offers a hand-held device called LEXID, which can reveal contraband hidden behind walls, in cars and in other containers [source: Physical Optics Corporation].
And for sidekicks, there are similar gadgets like ThruVision's T5000 people screener, which can detect when someone's concealing weapons without revealing intimate details about a person's body [source: ThruVision Systems].
These companies mostly design their products for use in law enforcement, military, fire and rescue, and security applications. You can see how they might come in handy, say, if someone's been taken hostage and negotiators are working to end the standoff safely. That seems like an activity befitting of a superhero.
Next we'll find out how to elude evil forces.