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Monday, March 24, 2008

Researchers developing 3-D camera with 12,616 lenses

The camera you own has one main lens and produces a flat, two-dimensional photograph, whether you hold it in your hand or view it on your computer screen. On the other hand, a camera with two lenses (or two cameras placed apart from each other) can take more interesting 3-D photos.

But what if your digital camera saw the world through thousands of tiny lenses, each a miniature camera unto itself" You�d get a 2-D photo, but you�d also get something potentially more valuable: an electronic �depth map� containing the distance from the camera to every object in the picture, a kind of super 3-D.

Stanford electronics researchers, lead by electrical engineering Professor Abbas El Gamal, are developing such a camera, built around their �multi-aperture image sensor.� They�ve shrunk the pixels on the sensor to 0.7 microns, several times smaller than pixels in standard digital cameras. They�ve grouped the pixels in arrays of 256 pixels each, and they�re preparing to place a tiny lens atop each array.

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eurekalert.org


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