Camera inspired by insect eyes can see 180 degrees, has almost infinite depth of field

Camera inspired by insect eyes can see 180degrees, has almost infinite depth of field

Technologists have been drawing inspiration from the insect world for a long time. And folks working on robotics really seem to love their creepy-crawlies and buzzing arthropods. Researchers at the University of Illinois are looking to our eight-legged planet mates, not for mobility lessons, but as a reference for a new camera design. The system mimics the vision of bees and mantises by combining multiple lenses on a half hemisphere to provide a 180-degree view with a nearly infinite depth of field. The optics themselves are described as "soft, rubbery" and each individual microlens is paired with its own photodiode. The work gets us a heck of a lot closer to the dream of a digital fly eye than previous efforts, though we're likely still quite a while from seeing applications outside of the lab. DARPA funding suggests the artificial compound eyes may have a future in surveillance, though the researchers also see uses for it in medicine.