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.