Eyeball camera zooms into focus
Bionic man, eat your heart out
Six Million Dollar Man Steve Austin's bionic eye could become reality thanks to the development of a "curvilinear camera" that mimics the human eye, has added zoom capabilities and is the size of a one pence piece.
US scientists from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois have constructed the "eyeball camera", which includes a 3.5x optical zoom, takes sharp images and doesn't cost much to produce, they say.
The camera has broad potential and once optimised, could be implemented in a range of consumer tech that includes night vision specs, robotic vision and endoscopic devices.
Eyeball-shaped cameras already exist, but lack the ability to zoom because their detectors are rigid.
The new device has a grid of sensors mounted on an elastic membrane, which is integrated with a lens that sits on a water chamber - furthering the consensus that H2O is the way forward with lens technology.
The detector and lens are initially flat. Pump liquid in and out of the chamber, and the sensor's shape goes concave or convex. Control the amount of water in the 'eye' - and thus the exact curvature of the sensor and the shape of the lens, and you can focus the device and adjust the zoom.
The boffins - Yonggang Huang of Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and John Rogers, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - have worked on this tech for several years, figuring out how to build inflexible silicon detectors onto a flexible membrane which can be distorted without damaging the sensors.
Find more on the project on the Robert R McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science website. ®
A one pence piece?
We call this thing "a penny".
"people take eyeballs out in all sorts of weather conditions"
Actually, it could come in handy. Stuck behind a tall person at a gig, cinema or theatre? Take your iBall* out and hold it in the air. No need for a mirror when you want to do your hair/make-up. And when you realise you've wasted your life making stupid comments on the interwebs, you can take it out and have a long hard look at yourself...
* Give me a load of cash and you can have it Mr Jobs!
Never mind Captain Cyborg
I'd be game for this. One of my eyes doesn't work much anyway, so upgrading to a MkII Eyeball would be no great hardship.
Quite alright, sir, 'tis equally applicable to me.
I tried taking a long hard look at myself, but ended up with a slipped disc...
@ G Fan
The "wasted your life making stupid comments" comment was self referential and not aimed at you!