Camera with No Lens. Any Window in a Home can become Security Camera

Camera with No Lens. Any Window in a Home can become Security Camera


University of Utah engineers develop computerized
camera without optics that instead uses an ordinary window as the lens. In the future, your car windshield could become
a giant camera sensing objects on the road. Or each window in a home could be turned into
a security camera. The engineers have discovered the way to create
an optics-less camera in which a regular pane of glass or any see-through window can become
the lens. If a normal digital camera sensor such as
one for a mobile phone or an SLR camera is pointed at an object without a lens, it results
in an image that looks like a pixelated blob. But within that blob is still enough digital
information to detect the object if a computer program is properly trained to identify it. You simply create an algorithm to decode the
image. Through a series of experiments, the team
of researchers took a picture of the University of Utah’s “U” logo as well as video of an
animated stick figure, both displayed on an LED light board. An inexpensive, off-the-shelf camera sensor
was connected to the side of a plexiglass window, but pointed into the window while
the light board was positioned in front of the pane at a 90-degree angle from the front
of the sensor. The resulting image from the camera sensor,
with help from a computer processor running the algorithm, is a low-resolution picture
but definitely recognizable. The method also can produce full-motion video
as well as color images. The process involves wrapping reflective tape
around the edge of the window. Most of the light coming from the object in
the picture passes through the glass, but just enough–about 1 percent–scatters through
the window and into the camera sensor for the computer algorithm to decode the image. Applications for a lensless camera can be
almost unlimited. Security cameras could be built into a home
during construction by using the windows as lenses. It could be used in augmented-reality goggles
to reduce their bulk. With current AR glasses, cameras have to be
pointed at the user’s eyes in order to track their positions, but with this technology
they could be positioned on the sides of the lens to reduce size. A car windshield could have multiple cameras
along the edges to capture more information. And the technology also could be used in retina
or other biometric scanners, which typically have cameras pointed at the eye.

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