While most folks get real excited over a cam like the Seitz 6x17 Digital
that shoots at 160 megapixels, Rice University
researchers have decided that less is, in fact, more. Scientists at the esteemed academic ivory tower in Houston, Texas have determined a way to build a single pixel camera that they claim will be cheaper way to take pictures in the future. Using one photodiode and one digital micromirror device (DMD) -- which is used primarily in digital TVs and projectors to convert digital information to light (and vice versa) via its thousands of tiny mirrors -- light is "shined onto the DMD and bounced from there though a second lens that focuses the light reflected by the DMD onto a single photodiode." Then, the DMD's mirrors shuffle at random for each new light sample, creating a new pixel value. The pair of lenses and the DMD thus compress data from a bigger image (left) into a smaller approximation (right). That said, don't expect this technology to make your consumer digicam any cheaper real soon, as the prototype requires five minutes for the engineers to take a picture using this technique, and even then, they can only shoot still objects.