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Insect-Inspired Camera

May 13, 2013

The compound eyes of insects have inspired the design of a new camera.



An insect-inspired camera. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Engineers have designed a digital camera inspired by the eyes of insects. According to John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, the new camera is modeled after the compound eyes of ants and beetles, which are made up of hundreds of tiny, rounded lenses.

JOHN ROGERS (University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign):

You end up with an imaging device that has some pretty unique and interesting characteristics: very wide angle field of view – 180 degrees or more, very high acuity to motion and essentially infinite depth of field, so objects very close to the eye are in a crisp focus just as objects distant away from the eye are as well.


He says conventional cameras rely on a single, flattened lens to capture images at wide angles, which results in distorted images. Potential uses for the camera include military surveillance and medical imaging. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society. 

The new digital cameras exploit large arrays of tiny focusing lenses and miniaturized detectors in hemispherical layouts, just like eyes found in arthropods. (John A. Rogers/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)