Scientists at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science have created an "eyeball camera" that not only resembles our visual organs but can see things more clearly than we can.
In a "robots can do it better than you" find of the day, Professor Yonggang Huang of the McCormick School of Engineering and his team have devised a "eyeball camera" that not only mimics the form of the human eye but features a 3.5x optical zoom.
The human eyeball is a special shape - called "curvilinear"- something that has proven to be a great difficulty for single-lens reflex (SLR) zoom options. While this type of zoom is extremely effective, it requires a flexibility that earlier designs simply could not support, making eyeball cameras a mere mimicry of human form rather than an improvement upon it.
Whereas earlier eye cameras had rigid detectors that required them to deform when a new zoom level was desired, Huang and his team have developed one which uses chambers of water under the lens and detector membrane which can change shape depending on how much water is removed or added. When full, the lens and detector are flat, but as water is removed they become concave, both resembling the eye and allowing the SLR component of the camera to function.
This flexible hemisphere system allows the eyeball camera to not only acts as our own eyes do, but be small enough in size that it can potentially be used for a variety of applications. In addition to endoscopic imaging and robotics, the eyeball camera is being proposed for night vision devices as well as the ever-present possibility of implanted eyes that will let us see in ways far beyond our current capability.
Sure, it's a way off, but we can see it coming.