Feeds

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

Puts a paparazzo snapper in every pocket

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration

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. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Nice computers don’t need to go to the toilet, says Barclays
Bad computers might ask if you are Sarah Connor
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
PEAK LANDFILL: Why tablet gloom is good news for Windows users
Sinofsky's hybrid strategy looks dafter than ever
YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
Old hardware doesn't get any faster with new software
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
VMware builds product executables on 50 Mac Minis
And goes to the Genius Bar for support
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Microsoft stands on shore as tablet-laden boat sails away
Brit buyers still not falling for Windows' charms
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?