Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a camera based on the human eye. The researchers boast of the eye camera’s superiority over human eyes – it can zoom. While it only has a 3.5x optical zoom, the researchers said a higher zoom will come as the technology advances.
The eye camera is made of curved lines, like the human eye, which allows it to match the curved lines of an image. The researchers claim the camera takes sharp images, though they haven’t revealed what resolution the eye camera can achieve. The eye camera is inexpensive to make and is the size of a nickel.
Unlike previous eye cameras, the researchers used flexible photodetectors on a thin membrane, which can easily change shape. Using a hydraulic system, researchers remove water to make the photodetector surface concave, and add water to make the surface become convex.
To get a sharp close-up of an image, the researchers operate the hydraulics system to change the shape of the lens and photodetectors to match the curvature of an image surface, enabling a zoom function.
The researchers hope the eye camera will be used in endoscopic imaging, robotics, night vision devices, and hopefully, implanted eyes. Maybe in the future you’ll have the option of upgrading your boring regular eyes to a pair that can zoom.