Curved sensors, flexible sensors and small cameras are no longer new to the tech world, but Columbia University engineers made another development that allows people to capture images using a flexible sheet camera.

The team has developed a prototype of an elastic sheet camera with a radical imaging technology that can be wrapped around objects.

"[W]e are exploring a radically different approach to imaging. We believe there are numerous applications for cameras that are large in format, but very thin and highly flexible." said Shree Nayar, the project head, and a professor of the Department of Computer Science, Columbia Engineering.

The "flex-cam" needs two technologies - a thin optical system and a flexible detector array.

The researchers hypothesized that capturing good quality images through the thin optical system is not enough, because placing the lenses with definite focal lengths will produce an image with missing information in between.

As a solution, the team used a silicon adaptive lens array that can adjust with sheet camera's bending, thus, avoiding information-loss of the captured image.

Uses Of Flex-Cam

The team hopes to produce large format of the camera that will go with a deformable lens array.

Moreover, if the elastic sheet camera can be produced cheaply, it can be used in capturing images that a conventional camera cannot. It can be wrapped around objects such as street poles, cars, furniture and even on people's clothing.

Along with Nayar, Daniel Sims, a research engineer and Yonghao Yue, a postdoctoral researcher, will present their work at the International Conference on Computational Photography on May 13 to 15 at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Inventions such as this could really change how people capture memories. It is possible that soon, this elastic thin sheet camera could already be found in people's wallets, along with their credit cards.

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