Researchers have developed a sheet camera with a flexible lens array which could be wrapped around everyday objects, turning them into cameras. The project, which uses elastic optics, could also see the development of credit card-thin cameras which a photographer simply bends to change the field of view.
While we’ve previously seen researchers miniaturizing cameras and lenses so they can be used in new situations, the team from Columbia University has taken a different approach. Led by Shree K. Nayar, T.C. Chang Professor of Computer Science at Columbia Engineering, it looked at producing a sheet camera which would enable any surface to capture visual information.
Using traditional fixed focal length lenses in such a lens array would mean that as the array sheet is bent, gaps are formed between the lenses’ fields of view, meaning information is missing. As such, the researchers set about designing a flexible lens array which also adapts its optical properties when the sheet camera is bent.