Scientists have 3D printed an eagle-eyed camera the size of a grain of salt

German scientists have created a tiny camera lens no larger than a grain of salt with eagle-eyed vision that could be used for spying.

The minuscule camera lens is 3D printed, and works like an eagle’s eye so it can simultaneously see a large area at low resolution and a single object in focus.

It contains four tiny lenses which are built on top of a microchip that combines all four pictures into one image.

Researchers at the University of Stuttgart have been working on this for a while, but their latest version’s similarity to eagle eyes comes down to its ability to focus on a small point while still viewing a large area.

This is because the lenses are set at different focal lengths.

An electron microscope image of the lens (Science Magazine)

Eagles maintain simultaneously low and high resolution across large areas by having incredibly deep fovea – the bit at the back of your eye covered in colour-sensing cone cells. They also have tonnes of cone cells, making for great vision.

Some of the camera’s lenses see from a wide angle, and the others have a narrower field of vision with a higher resolution.

A combination of the pictures creates a “foveated image”.

The foveated image combines pictures from several lenses with different resolutions (Science Magazine)

Future versions of the camera could be used to look inside body parts never seen live before, like small veins.

Otherwise, they could be used to create almost undetectable spy drones.

There’s work to do before then, as they’re still a little large for use in blood vessels and their resolution generally is quite low.

You can read the full paper, published in Science Advances, here.



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