One of the biggest inventions of this era is a small, paper-thin camera that has no lens attached to it. This innovative device has the potential to turn traditional photography on its head. The square-shaped camera, measuring 0.04 inches by 0.05 inches, can switch its aperture amid wide angle, fish eye and zoom immediately.
It’s just a tabular piece of doped silicon, without parts that entail off-chip manufacturing. In addition, this ultra thin lens free camera being extremely thick in size, it can be installed almost anywhere, out of the people’s vision. For example, it could be easily installed in a watch or in a pair of sunglasses or even in fabric.
The images produced by the camera are just about 20 pixels across – the resolution is quite low, but adequate for certain applications. For example, set in a test subject’s brain, it could capture neurons that have been adapted to glow when active. It can also be embedded in electronic devices that evaluate the angle of the Sun, in mini robots that need a simple navigational vision system, or in a range of other capacities.
The best part of this ultra thin lens free camera is that we can produce images without any automated movement. Within fractions of a second, the light receivers (64) can be operated to capture an object on the far right or left side of the view or anywhere in between. This task can be accomplished without pointing the device towards the object, which otherwise is necessary in case of a hand-held camera.
The device’s capability to control incoming light waves is so specific and fast that, tentatively, it could capture thousands of images in any type of light, including infrared, within seconds. This is a new category of camera that challenges the notions of what we’ve always endeavored a camera had to be.