The era in which we are currently living could easily be described with just two words – technological development. The most relevant thing we are accomplishing these days is to greatly improve on a great many previously developed technologies. And the way in which we’re doing this most often is via miniaturization.
Everything started with the miniaturization of computers and computer chips, bringing them down from the size of a room to the size of a laptop, and even smaller. And now we’re working on miniaturized space crafts, the world’s smallest computer is smaller than a fly’s wing, and we can even have flat and flexible wrap-around cameras that can stick to any surface and function flawlessly.
Flexible lens array
Basically, the new device is a very small, flat camera, coming in the form of a sheet of lenses that can twist and deform whichever way you want them to. This helps generate fields of view that couldn’t be achieved with any other type of technology developed up until this point.
The idea was to make a camera that could wrap around objects such as poles, vehicles, etc. And the team from the Columbia University in New York came up with the idea to do this by allowing the device the ability to adapt its optical properties when bent. This is because their previous idea partially failed.
Issues and fixes
You see, before the team decided to go this route, their initial plan was to attach a rigid lens with a fixed focal length to every single detector on a flexible array. However, this would generate aliasing, or missing information, as gaps would appear in the field of vision between lenses as the array bent.
In order to take care of this issue, the team came up with the adaptive lens array. Made from an elastic material, each lens in the sheet camera can vary its focal length as the local curvatures of the sheets are manipulated, thus eliminating any potential gaps in the resulting image.
Obviously, the team is planning to further look into how they can improve their design. One of their prioritized plans is to find a way to make the flexible cameras work on something with far more curvatures and movements, like say a human being. Seeing as Japan recently developed a sort of electronic skin that works as a display, the two technologies could work together quite nicely.
Seeing the multiple and varied uses of cameras today, coming up with new, useful, and interesting ways to use these flat, bendable cameras will pretty much only be limited by imagination. And there are countless ways the devices could be used that don’t even involve a futuristic view on the world, but merely a vision for the betterment of current tech.
Image source: YouTube