Researchers Create Flexible Camera That Can Wrap Around Objects

If you want to take a 360-degree photograph, you either need a complex and bulky camera rig to do it, or deal with the blurry stitching that often appears in 3D images taken in pieces by smartphones. These limitations could soon be a thing of the past as a team of researchers from the University of Colombia have invented the prototype of a “flexible wallpaper camera” that is capable of wrapping around objects and taking photographs in all directions.

The wallpaper camera is based around the concept of being able to employ flexible lenses that are still able to take images while avoiding the issue of aliasing in incredibly compact lenses. The researchers first identified the properties that were required for a flexible lens requires to show passive optical adaptation and used this knowledge to construct a model of tiny identical lenses made of convex and planar sides and arrayed in a grid layout. The convex side of each lens faced outwards while the planar side was used as the base and the side upon which the detector components of the camera were attached. When the lens array is incredibly compact, the researchers found that it brought on a kind of adaptation that is required for optical anti-aliasing, countering the normal aliasing effect where signals become indistinguishable when sampled.

To tackle this, the lens array was made highly elastic and if constructed correctly, the lens array changes shape and focal length when distorted with the bending forces acting to regulate the aliasing. When combined with a flexible sensor array, the technology is capable of forming a complete sheet of camera says the team. They believe that the next step for the technology is to create a high-resolution lens array that and attaching it to a large format image sensor to create a true high-resolution flexible camera.

The current findings in the team have been published in a document which can be found here.

Image credit to Columbia Engineering.

Astronauts Might Be Able to Play with Lasers from the International Space Station Soon

According to ScienceDirect, a few researchers have come up with a plan to turn the International Space Station into a defence system against asteroids or other ‘orbiting debris’.

How cool is that? Get a paid vacation in space… float around the room… and have some lasers to play around with! Of course, it is not that simple. However, the general idea sounds great. Look at what the researchers have highlighted in their paper:

  • A debris remediation system with a wide angle telescope and a laser transmitter.
  • A step-by-step approach using the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Proof of principle demonstration of the detection with an ISS based prototype.
  • Technical demonstrator with an EUSO telescope and a space CAN laser.
  • A free-flyer mission dedicated to debris remediation with the altitude ~800 km.

So what we know so far is that they are looking to build an ‘orbital debris remediation system’ as they call it, which is made out of a super-wide field-of-view telescope named ‘EUSO’ and a novel high-efficiency fibre-based laser system called ‘CAN’.

The telescope features a 2.5 meter optics and a FOV of ±30 degrees. Together with the CAN laser, the project hopes to blow up stuff at a range of 100 km. Not bad at all! It shows a lot of potential, but let’s not get too excited.

Though the idea is filed, there is still the building part that usually kills and keeps ideas on paper. I mean, a project such as this requires a LOT of money and manpower.

Until more information on who is going to build it and how (or if we’ll ever see it in action at all) surfaces, what do you think? Are you feeling a bit more relieved that you won’t get hit by an asteroid in the future?

Image courtesy of Deagle