Camera that wraps around objects to capture 360-degree views
Scientists have developed a camera that resembles a flat sheet of paper and is so thin and flexible that it could be wrapped around everyday objects such as desks, cars, streetlights and the like, to capture 360-degree views of the said objects. It can help turn any surface into a camera—the invention may lead to card-size cameras that can flex in order to increase their field-of-view.
Regular cameras take pictures from a single point in space, but this new device instead seeks to capture images using a flat grid of miniature cameras—something like an insect’s compound eye.
One possible approach for a camera that is a flexible sheet would involve rigid lenses attached to a pliable sheet. However, bending this sheet would result in gaps between the fields-of-views of the adjacent lenses. This could cause the resulting image to have missing information.
Instead, the researchers developed an elastic sheet made of flexible lenses. No matter how this sheet is bent, there are no gaps between the lenses. They developed a flexible array that consists of nearly 1100 lenses made of silicone rubber. By optimising the geometrical proportions of the lenses and the material properties of the sheet, they found that this array could produce high-quality images even when bent and twisted.