Eye Camera, No Not iCamera


Researchers from the University of Illinois and Norhwestern University have created a camera which functions like a human eye.  The camera is about the size of a nickel, has a 3.5x optical zoom, takes very clear photos and is inexpensive to make.

Yonggang Huang led the theory and design work.  John Rodgers Led the materials and engineering aspects of the project.  This technology could assist us with endoscopic imaging, night vision and robotics.  Yes, humans with human eyes that take pictures!

Hang and Rodgers determined that for a camera to function like a human eye with a variable zoom, it must contain a detector that is able to change shape.  This is because focused images also change shape with magnification.

To create the camera’s detector, Hang and Rodgers compiled a series of connected flexible photo detectors on a flexible elastic membrane.  The camera’s lens was integrated by attaching another elastic membrane to a water chamber with a clear glass surface.

Both the detector and lens are flat by default.  Beneath both are chambers of water. When water is removed from the detector’s chamber, it’s surface bends into a concave hemisphere.  When water is added to the Len’s chamber is bends into a convex hemisphere.

The focusing and magnification is achieved through manipulating the shape of both the detector and lens through hydraulics.

This research will be published this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science PNAS.


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