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Scientists advance bug-eyed CCTV tech

Defense Department funds tiny panoramas

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US scientists have developed minuscule compound lenses that will allow insect-style panoramic vision. The research, reported in Science, was carried out by Professor Luke Lee and colleagues at the University of California, with backing from DARPA, the US government's defence research organ.

Each pinhead-sized lens consists of nearly 9,000 individual “eyes” in a honeycomb patten. The light paths are burnt into a special polymer by concentrated light. Each one is oriented in a slightly different direction, producing the super-wide-angle. Although the view is low-resolution, the lenses will be very good at picking up movement, the team say.

The next step for the project is to find the best way of hooking the compound eye up to a device to produce images.

As well as the obvious surveillance applications, the hypoallergenic plastic compound used means the technology could have a less shady use in internal medical investigations. ®

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