If you always thought smartphone cameras detract from the overall look of the device and make it bulky, then there might soon be a solution. Researchers at Rice University Labs have designed and created a new camera ‘FlatCam’ which is tiny enough to fit inside a credit card and is completely lens-less. Also Read - Facebook for Android will soon get dark mode and coronavirus tracking featureAlso Read - Scientists develop soft contact lens that can zoom with a blink
The ultra slim camera can easily be fitted inside gadgets like smartphones and will help the device retain a sleek look, without making a single portion protrude out or make the entire device feel bulky. Currently, the FlatCam can produce images with a resolution of 512×512, but the image resolution is expected to improve once there are advancements made in the processor. Also Read - Increasing smartphone usage may be resulting in growing horns on our skull; research suggests
The engineers responsible for inventing the camera, Richard Baraniuk and Ashok Veeraraghavan have designed the camera to resemble more of a chip than a traditional snapper. Instead of the traditional lens, the slim FlatCam relies on computer algorithms that process what the sensor detects and then, convert these findings and measurements into images and videos. The camera, as it relies on algorithms, is extremely precise and can be used to capture a variety of images and videos. Also, owing to the small size and lack of complex components, the camera is easy to manufacture and more cost-effective.
Unlike pin-hole cameras that rely on a pin hole to take shots, the FlatCam is a grid-like coded mask placed close to the sensor that filters apertures. Once the aperture filters through the light, the data is sent to the sensor which then transfers it to a backend processor, and the data is then put together into an image. The image can be traditionally edited and the depth changed once the data is collected and sent to the FlatCam processors.
The chip-like FlatCam is also flexible, increasing its usability and are designed more not for traditional photography enthusiasts, but rather for applications where the camera could be of more use, like high-security military operations. ALSO READ: YouTube monthly viewership crosses 1.5 billion, people prefer mobiles for streaming videos
The prototype that has been created by the researchers is extremely slim and is thinner than a coin. Additionally, as the camera does away with traditional lenses and sensors, can be used to capture images even in low-light. The camera gives quality low-light images and also captures videos.
In a report on Rice News, Veeraraghavan said, ” As traditional cameras get smaller, their sensors also get smaller, and this means they collect very little light. The low-light performance of a camera is tied to the surface area of the sensor. Unfortunately, since all camera designs are basically cubes, surface area is tied to thickness. Our design decouples the two parameters, providing the ability to utilize the enhanced light-collection abilities of large sensors with a really thin device.”