A new type of camera is being developed that has a much higher field of view than was previously possible.
Modern cameras have a number of flaws, but one of them is something that the human eye also suffers from: a limited field of view. A new camera technology is being developed which is inspired by insects. An insect's eyes are actually more like spheres with countless small eyes. This system gives them a massive field of view and depth of field. "Nature has developed and refined these concepts over the course of billions of years of evolution," said lead researcher John Rogers.
The researchers at the University of Illinois are exploiting nature's advantage and developing cameras based on the same principle. Basically, they are building an array of lenses and detectors around a hemisphere.
"Full 180 degree fields of view with zero aberrations can only be accomplished with image sensors that adopt hemispherical layouts – much different than the planar CCD chips found in commercial cameras. When implemented with large arrays of microlenses, each of which couples to an individual photodiode, this type of hemispherical design provides unmatched field of view and other powerful capabilities in imaging," said John Rogers.
It has only been recently that these developments have been made possible, largely due to new developments in elastic optics that are needed to create a hemispherical camera. Sadly though, no indication was given as to when this kind of technology would actually be put into practice.