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You won’t be gifting it during this holiday season, but in a couple of years you’ll be able to buy a device that lets you see through walls. X-ray vision is soon to become a reality – a real life “super” power.

Work on the technology began in 2012 at MIT’s Wireless Centre, with the goal of determining how wireless signals could be used to “see” through obstacles, says the Centre’s director Professor Dina Katabi.

“At first we were just interested … can you at all use wireless signals to detect what’s happening in occluded spaces, behind a wall, couch, something like that,” she said. “It turned out that we were able to detect that.”

“’And when we figured out we could detect that, we started asking more advanced questions: Could we use it to detect exactly how people are moving in a space if they are behind a wall?”

The way it works is by transmitting wireless signals through walls. The signals then bounce off an objects back to the device. Using the signals, the device creates a 3D model of the space behind the wall, including the human body.

A special algorithm works to stitch together the various reflections into a unified image that can even capture and analyse a person’s breathing and heart rate.

Here is how it works:

To market and distribute the device a company called Emerald will spin out of MIT next year. They aim to bring the X-ray-vision device to market early in 2017, with a price tag of only $250-$300.

If you always wanted a superpower, in two years time you could finally have one.