January 20, 2011
Curvilinear Camera Like Human Eye But With Zoom

Scientists try to surpass the human eye with a nickel-sized camera that includes zoom. Zoom would be incredibly handy.

Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are the first to develop a curvilinear camera, much like the human eye, with the significant feature of a zoom capability, unlike the human eye.

The "eyeball camera" has a 3.5x optical zoom, takes sharp images, is inexpensive to make and is only the size of a nickel. (A higher zoom is possible with the technology.)

While the camera won't be appearing at Best Buy any time soon, the tunable camera -- once optimized -- should be useful in many applications, including night-vision surveillance, robotic vision, endoscopic imaging and consumer electronics.

If you could get a bionic eye that was better than your natural eye would you pop for it? Imagine the ability to shift into infrared or ultraviolet as needed. A bionic eye would no doubt include the ability to take and store pictures too, all under thought control.

Beyond the human eye.

"We were inspired by the human eye, but we wanted to go beyond the human eye," said Yonggang Huang, Joseph Cummings Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. "Our goal was to develop something simple that can zoom and capture good images, and we've achieved that."

With a bionic eye properly networked you could also watch movies by just thinking yourself into movie-watching mode.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 January 20 09:55 PM  Cyborg Tech

Mthson said at January 20, 2011 11:31 PM:

Only if we can check our twitter feed while listening to people talk.

Brett Bellmore said at January 21, 2011 4:11 AM:

If I could get a new replacement lens, (Just had cataract surgery.) that had variable focus, I'd be delighted. Even though I was already in my 50's, and had little accommodation left, the difference between "little" and "none" is quite noticeable.

As for the camera, it's a nice start, but the real challenge was never the camera. It's the interface to the brain.

By the way, although it's just my subjective experience at this point, it appears to me that spending a period of a year with uncorrectable blurry vision has had some impact on my visual cortex' performance; Now that I'm seeing clearly again, I don't 'acquire targets' nearly as fast as I used to. I'm hoping that this will go away, as the visual cortex re-learns it's job.

Russ said at January 21, 2011 7:50 AM:

@Brett: perhaps some video-game-playing would help you to "retrain?"

Agreed on the interface (and keeping it virus-free!). Otherwise, I would find myself considering it strongly. I've had 20/13 vision for most of my life, and the benefit when outdoors is enormous. With a little brain-interpretation work, I can regularly pick out objects that friends of mine with glasses have needed binoculars to see. The idea of being able to shift-wavelength (or even voluntarily desaturate the input when gardening, so as to be better-able to spot garden pests!) would be very, very tempting.

Nathan said at January 24, 2011 11:13 AM:

As someone who has 20/40ish and 20/350-400 vision this would help me a lot with the interface working.

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