June 26, 2013
Bell Labs is developing a new class of imaging device that does not require a lens, but instead uses a light sensitive sensor to create a high resolution image. A new technique known as compressive sensing minimizes redundancy to acquire data with carefully chosen measurements. The camera, which merely features an aperture assembly and a sensor, records images that are never out of focus. Additionally, when using two pixels instead of one, it can create two different images of the scene.
The compressive imaging system (also referred to as ghost imaging) is being developed by Hong Jiang, Gang Huang and Paul Wilford at Bell Labs in New Jersey. The team has published specifics in Multi-View in Lensless Compressive Imaging.
“The process of creating an image is straightforward. It begins with the sensor recording the light from the scene that has passed through a random array of apertures in the LCD panel,” according to the arXiv Blog. “It then records the light from a different random array and then another and so on.”
“Although seemingly random, each of these snapshots is correlated because they record the same scene in a different way. And this is the key that the team use to reassemble an image. The process of compressive sensing analyses the data, looking for this correlation which it then uses to recreate the image.”
“Clearly, the more snapshots that are taken, the better the image will be. But it is possible to create a pretty good image using just a tiny fraction of the data that a conventional image would require.”
Applications for this kind of camera are not yet clear, but could potentially revolutionize optical, infrared and wave imaging, since the system only requires a tiny amount of data to create images, suffers none of the aberrations associated with lenses, and is simple and affordable.
“People who photograph slow-moving objects with expensive gear ought to be particularly interested,” suggests Technology Review. “Since the lens or mirror is the most expensive part of any telescope — particularly space telescopes — perhaps astronomers will be first in the queue.”