November 9th, 2008- A tiny bug-eyed camera, which provides a field of view six times that of the conventional camera, has been tested by researchers at a defense company in the UK.
Experts at BAE Systems at Great Baddow have revealed that the new system, called BugEye, has been developed primarily for use on missiles to keep track of targets.
The researchers add that the prototype camera is so small that it can also be used on endoscopes, giving an improved field of view in keyhole surgery.
Leslie Laycock of BAE Systems says that many researchers have attempted to build smaller and lighter wide-angle cameras by copying the design of an insect's eye that provides a wide field of view as it contains many lenses, but they have not been successful in achieving good resolution.
The researchers has revealed that the array of lenses was whittled down to just nine for making the new prototype, each looking at a different part of the scene.
Laycock says that the lenses are polished on to the end of a bundle of millions of glass fibres that have been fused together, and that direct the images onto separate areas of a flat light-sensitive chip, and image-processing software is used to stitch them together.
According to Laycock, the BugEye is roughly the size of a sugar cube, and one-tenth the weight of systems using fish-eye lenses or moving platforms, reports New Scientist magazine.
Emma Johnson, a biomimetics expert from the University of Reading in the UK, thinks that the new system can lead to a "significant improvement," and allow the field of view of cameras to approach that of human vision.