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Insect Eye-Inspired Camera Captures Wide Field of View with No Distortion, According to Study Co-Led By Cu-Boulder

A digital camera inspired by the eyes of insects.

An image of the experimental camera built to mimic the eyes of arthropods.

Credit: John Rogers, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Colorado Boulder researchers have built an experimental digital camera that can take exceptionally wide-angle photos without distorting the image by mimicking the bowl-shaped eyes of insects.

The researchers used stretchable electronics and a pliable sheet of microlenses made from a material similar to that used for contact lenses to create the camera. "The most important and most revolutionizing part of this camera is to bend electronics onto a curved surface," says CU-Boulder professor Jianliang Xiao. "Here, by using stretchable electronics, we can deform the system; we can put it onto a curved surface."

The pliable material enables the researchers to create an electronic camera that mirrors an insect's vision. The researchers note that compared to mammals, an insect's eyes have a much larger field of view, as well as a high sensitivity to motion and an infinite depth of field.

The camera has 180 miniature lenses, each of which is backed with its own small electronic detector. The electronics and the lenses are flat when fabricated, which enables them to be manufactured using conventional systems. The components are integrated while flat and then molded into a hemispherical shape for use in the camera.

From CU-Boulder News Center
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