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Bird's eye view

A miniature camera that imitates an eagle’s vision may lead to the creation of tiny, but complex, ocular imaging systems

Eagle eye

Researchers have created a tiny camera that mimics the vision of feathered predators using 3D printing technology.

A University of Stuttgart team produced a camera that combines four printed lenses with different focal lengths. The footprint of the optics in the camera is 300 square micrometres.

Study author, Dr Alois Herkommer, told OT the technology had the potential to enable small, versatile imaging systems in fields such as endoscopy, optical sensing, surveillance drones and security.

The research also holds promise for the creation of miniature but complex optical imaging systems.

‘This could enable very small optical instruments for eye diagnostics,” Dr Herkommer explained.

The technology is inspired by the natural vision of predators, such as eagles, that have high central acuity.

Overlaying the images rendered by each of the four lenses leads to a foveated image with high resolution in the centre.

The camera draws from the concept that because many tasks do not require equal clarity across a field of view, only the central view needs to be the most detailed.  

Image credit: Peter Kaminski