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FlatCam (Image 4)

FlatCam shows promise in turning flat, curved surfaces into cameras

Thinner than a dime, Rice University's FlatCam is a new technology that shows promise in turning flat, curved or flexible surfaces into cameras. The device is based on a standard imaging sensor paired with a mask and decoding software.

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Richard Baraniuk and Ashok Veeraraghava, electrical and computer engineers at Rice University, have invented FlatCam, a new technology that shows promise in turning flat, curved or flexible surfaces into cameras.

The device is little more than a thin sensor chip with a mask that replaces the lens of a traditional camera. Sophisticated computer algorithms process what the sensor detects and converts the sensor measurements into images and videos.

Traditional cameras require lenses, and adding a lens to a camera after it has been fabricated raises their cost, according to the researchers. Veeraraghavan says FlatCam can be fabricated like a microchip, with the precision, speed and associated reduction in costs. He says their most recent prototype is thinner than a dime. And FlatCam is flexible enough for applications that traditional devices cannot serve.

FlatCams may find use in security or disaster-relief applications and as flexible, foldable, wearable and even disposable cameras, he says.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

To learn more, see the Rice news story No lens? No problem for FlatCam. (Date image taken: 2015; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: March 7, 2016) [Image 4 of 4 related images. Back to Image 1.]

Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University
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