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Thermal imaging cameras are highly useful tools for military and law enforcement types, letting them see humans inside buildings or land a helicopter in the fog. High-definition models are too heavy for servicemen to tote, however, so DARPA and a private partner have built a 1,280 x 720 LWIR (long-wave infrared) imager with pixels a mere five microns in diameter. That's smaller than infrared light's wavelength, allowing for a slighter device without giving up any resolution or sensitivity while costing much less, to boot. Researchers say that three functional prototypes have performed as well as much larger models, allowing them to see through a simulated dust storm, among other tests. If DARPA ever lets such goodies fall into civvy hands, count us in -- you can never have too much security.

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