Although there have been attempts at lensless cameras before, few of them would replace our point-and-shoots when they're frequently expensive, or capture photos outside of the visible light spectrum. We shouldn't have either of those problems with Bell Labs' new prototype. The experiment uses an LCD as a grid of apertures that filter the light reaching a sensor. As that sensor can piece together an image simply by grabbing random aperture samples and correlating the data, it only needs a sliver of the usual information to produce a usable shot. The lens-free, mostly off-the-shelf approach could lower the costs of both the sensor and the overall camera, but it could also lead to simpler comparison tools: the correlation makes it easier to tell if an object is missing, for example. Bell Labs hasn't talked about any production plans, but we have a hunch that Alcatel-Lucent would rather not let its research wing's technology go to waste.
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