Curvilinear Camera

The researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign have became highly successful in devising a eyeball camera. The curvilinear camera is a synthesis between human eye and 3.5x single-lens reflex (SLR) zoom lens – Higher zoom will be integrated in the future.


Yonggang Huang, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science said that “We were inspired by the human eye, but we wanted to go beyond the human eye.” Once developed, it can enhance the applications like night-vision surveillance, robotic vision, endoscopic imaging and consumer electronics.

The simple human lens and photodetectors were placed on flexible substrates in which the hydraulic system changes their shape for concluding a variable zoom. Huang, co-corresponding author of the PNAS paper, has initiated the design work at Northwestern University along with colleague John Rogers. Lee J. Flor Founder Chair in Engineering and professor of materials science at the University of Illinois has led the experimental and fabrication work of the eye.


The rigid detectors of the previous eyeball cameras made them incompatible with variable zoom. For making the rigid detectors change the team utilized an array of interconnected and flexible silicon photodetectors on a thin, elastic membrane. The result obtained was a more flexible zooming eyeball.

In addition to that the mechanism has been equipped with a lens devised by putting a thin elastic membrane on a water chamber with clear glass window under it. To get an in-focus and magnified image, the researchers used hydraulics mechanism to change the curvatures of the lens and detector in an effective manner. Through a hemispherical eye camera it was assured that the shape of the detector is exactly matching the varying curvature of the image surface for getting continuous and adjustable zoom .

Via Gizmowatch