The visual ability of insect’s eyes, most renowned in the compound eye types found in advanced arthropods, has always perked the human curiosity. Tiny and multi-faceted, hyper-thin insect eyes have a range of motion and resolution in an impossibly compact size. For years, scientists have struggled with ways to replicate some form of this ability, and a microscopic two millimeter mosaic camera developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena, Germany, may have come quite close. Tested to precision with spectroradiometers, the basic concept is a tiny flat camera whose lens actually contains 135 micro-instruments all recording visual data from alert unique angles.
Each one of the 135 facets takes in a very particularly piece of the surrounding environment, creating rotational optics that have been described as insect-like. The benefits of using such a technological system could be widespread: every place we use small cameras now (phones, medical instruments, cars, etc.) could be brought up to a stronger resolution and optical level.
As Andreas Brückner, a main project manager on the team that helped create this optical device technically put it: “With a camera thickness of only two millimeters, this technology, taken from nature’s model, will enable us to achieve a resolution of up to four megapixels,” he said recently. “This is clearly a higher resolution compared to cameras in industrial applications.”
Current smartphone cameras generally feature a lens size around five millimeters, and they have a lack of flexibility by basic design. Although the relative thickness may seem somewhat inconsequential, that difference is massive for designers who must tailor optical ability only to where it can be fit. By improving resolution and visual arrays, on a much thinner scale, the applications for camera technology in tiny products becomes boundless.
This flat camera, or FacetVision as it’s called, was shown off by the Fraunhofer Institute this past January at a trade show in Las Vegas. Its admirers were immediate. Further adapting this technology will require significantly attuned spectroradiometers as well highly sensitive photometric testing. This will be especially true the thinner developers can manage to make mosaic lenses; the limit has not really been tested yet. For more information on spectroradiometric instruments and products produced at the highest level by Gooch and Housego, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Maureen Knowles at 407-422-3171 (Ext: 206).