New bug-eye camera provides a glimpse into the future

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A team of scientists at the University of Illinois have developed a digital camera that has been inspired by the compound eyes of bugs such as the ones on ants and beetles. Like the compound eyes of insects, it provides 160 degrees field of view and has near infinite depth of field. This means that the camera will provide a wide angle panoramic view where all the objects are in focus regardless of distance.

macro photography insect's compound eyes

Close up of the compound eyes of a bug

If you have ever wondered how the world looks like through the eyes of your macro photography subjects (eg. ants, beetles, bees, praying mantis, dragon flies, etc), it is now possible through this innovative camera. To achieve this, the research team used 180 micro lenses and mounted each one onto a flexible hemispherical half bubble surface. While each one of these micro lenses operate independently and focuses on different areas, the final image will be created by taking into consideration of all the images that have been obtained from all these micro lenses.

The prototype camera currently takes photos in low resolution but the research team at the University of Illinois has indicated that it is possible for them to improve the resolution by adding more micro lenses. Additionally, the next steps could include the ability to combine two half hemispherical surfaces together in order to achieve a 360 degrees field of view.

As reported by CNN, this technology could potentially be used in surveillance cameras or used in the medical field in the future. Using the ‘bug-eye’ camera for surveillance will provide a wide field of view and ensure that all the objects in view are in focus. Within the medical field, this could be used to improve the current endoscopic cameras by providing medical professionals with a wider view whilst providing a higher quality image.

So, when you are photographing your next macro photography insect, make sure you take some time to admire the complex structure of their compound eyes. In fact, ensure you thank them for their assistance by taking a shot of them from their good angle!

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