Researchers from Columbia University have presented a flexible new camera that could revolutionize security as we know it.
Security cameras have undoubtedly helped make some aspects of the world safer, but they do have their limitations. According to a report from Gizmodo, researchers from Columbia University’s Computer Vision Laboratory have unveiled a new camera with a drastically wider field of view than anything else currently available.
The camera is made of a flexible silicone sheet that can wrap around nearly any surface like wallpaper, allowing it to capture a much more clear picture than what is possible with a normal wide-angle lens. A series of thin lenses are positioned over the silicone sheet in such a way that allows for a crystal clear view of the scene ahead.
Because the material is flexible, researchers ran into a significant amount of trouble trying to eliminate image overlap and blind spots. Even with post-processing, the great challenge behind the development was getting a true representation of an image while the camera was bent into new configurations.
To confront this problem, the team developed a new type of flexible lens that bends with the material of the camera. As the camera assumes new positions, the lenses move with the device to ensure that the picture doesn’t get scrambled in the process. This eliminated the need for new mechanical or electrical solutions.
The team released a video demonstrating the camera’s abilities. As the device gets bent into an arc, the captured images shows every point along its range of motion. While researchers still have yet to enable the camera with high-definition capabilities, the field of view was significantly increased.
Computer Science professor Shree K. Nayar from the Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science wants to continue working on the flexible camera. They hope to make the device smaller and easier to use for photographers and security professionals alike. Having an increased field of view presents opportunities for increased monitoring capabilities and never-before seen artistic shots.
A press release from the Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science describing the details of the study can be found here.
Photo: Columbia University