Scientists have developed a “bug-eye” camera that works like a compound eye of the insect. It has an array of 180 small lenses present, on a curve mounting, with the related electronics.
“The compound design of the fly’s eye incorporates perhaps 28,000 small eyes, or ommatidia,” Dr. Jianliang Xiao from the University of Colorado at Boulder and the team member, said. “That’s the direction we want to move in,” he told BBC News.
Ommatidium (plural: Ommatidia), is the light-sensing structure in the compound eye in the insects having a corneal lens, a crystalline cone and a light-sensitive organ at its base. Ommatidia work together to give a complete picture of the world.
In the present invention, the curved mounting of the camera is to mimic the compound structure of the insect’s eye. In the artificial eye, photodetectors and other electronics are present with microlenses and the software in the camera join the individual signals from the different lenses giving the complete picture.
Although the prototype camera has few pixels, giving low resolution images, but this camera can help in the very wide-angle view, i.e. 160-degree view, and sharp focus at any distance as such as in unmanned flying vehicles and endoscopes.
“Our system could eventually be used in surveillance cameras. One device of this kind could see 180 degrees. If you had two, you could then conceivably see the whole field of view,” said Dr Xiao.
Song, Y., Xie, Y., Malyarchuk, V., Xiao, J., Jung, I., Choi, K., Liu, Z., Park, H., Lu, C., Kim, R., Li, R., Crozier, K., Huang, Y., & Rogers, J. (2013). Digital cameras with designs inspired by the arthropod eye Nature, 497 (7447), 95-99 DOI: 10.1038/nature12083