Scientists at the University of Illinois have developed a digital camera that functions in a similar way to an insect's eye. The prototype camera has 180 small lenses embedded in a curved mount, which enables it to capture high resolution panoramic photos with a continuous depth-of-field. The camera is made by inflating a flat layer of lenses into a hemispherical eye-shape, similar to eyes found in insects. This technology has a wide variety of possible applications, and could eventually be used in anything from surveillance systems to UAVs.
Each lens focusses light onto a photosensitive silicon layer, which is then built up with images from the other lenses to form a representation of the objects around the camera. The viewing angle of the lens is around 160 degrees, however the prototype camera has a relatively low resolution. John Rogers, a material scientist at the university, says that with the basic designs his team have developed, they can now work on increasing the resolution by adding more and more lenses to the camera.