Feeds

Curve/ball phone-cam tech 'to match professional kit'

Puts a paparazzo snapper in every pocket

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

American boffins say they have cracked one of the main problems of camera design - the limitations imposed by the use of flat film or photoreceptor arrays. They say that their new curved photoreceptors, modelled on the human retina, could offer mobile phones able to take pictures as good as those from today's bulky professional cameras.

University of Wisconsin-Madison pic of a flexible germanium photodetector array

The flexible pocket paparazzo.

At the moment, cameras use lenses to focus an image onto a flat area - either a piece of film or a digital photoreceptor array. At the centre of the image the lens can be precisely focused to the right distance, throwing a sharp image. Moving away from the central point, however, the distance from the lens changes and quality begins to be lost.

Expensive, bulky pro-grade lens arrays can compensate for this to some extent, but even the best of them suffer from stretch or focus loss at the edges of a picture. In compact, cheap systems like phone or laptop cams, problems are correspondingly more severe.

The human eye does better. The retina which receives the image is curved, maintaining a more constant distance from the lens and allowing a better image to be received. (The eye does lose a lot of resolution and colour away from the central "fovea" region, but this is due to the distribution of rods and cones on the retina.)

But now, associate prof Zhenqiang "Jack" Ma of Wisconsin Uni and his colleagues have developed bendy photoreceptors which they believe could be used to create digital cameras with curved imaging arrays. At the moment the new kit will bend in only one direction, but Ma thinks he can produce hemispherical ones soon.

"If I take a picture with a cell phone camera, for example, there is distortion," says the prof. But with a curved receptor array, there's no need for the multiple compensating lenses normally required for proper photography.

"If you can make a curved imaging plane, you just need one lens," Ma continues. "That's why this development is extremely important."

Ma's new, bendy light detectors are made from germanium "nanomembranes", it says here. The manufacturing plan is to place these in a layer onto appropriately-curved plastic backing.

"We can easily realize very high-density flexible and sensitive imaging arrays, because the photodetector material germanium itself is extremely bendable and extremely efficient in absorbing light," according to Ma.

There's no word on any commercial deals or timelines for the new pro-quality phonesnap kit, however. A Wisconsin Uni report can be read here. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Chipmaker FTDI bricking counterfeit kit
USB-serial imitators whacked by driver update
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.