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Image Gallery: Bug's Eye Camera

Bug's eye camera and bee

bug's eye camera and flying insect

(Image credit: University of Illinois and Beckman Institute)

A new digital camera developed by scientists takes its inspiration from the compound eyes of insects.

Bug's eye camera and fly

bug's eye camera and insect

(Image credit: University of Illinois and Beckman Institute)

Insect eyes have a wide field of view, high motion sensitivity and an infinite depth of field (the distance between objects that appear sharp in an image).

Bug's eye camera and ant

bug's eye camera and insect

(Image credit: University of Illinois and Beckman Institute)

The camera contains hundreds of tiny photo sensors that resemble structures in an insect's eye called ommatidia.

The camera assembly

bug's eye camera

(Image credit: University of Illinois and Beckman Institute)

Each imaging unit, or ommatidium, consists of a tiny lens on a supporting post that conveys light down to a silicon photodetector.

The camera assembly

bug's eye camera

(Image credit: University of Illinois and Beckman Institute)

To make the camera, flexible arrays of lenses and photodetectors were assembled in flat, 2D sheets. The sheets were then bonded together and inflated into a hemispherical shape.

Side view of camera

bug's eye camera

(Image credit: University of Illinois and Beckman Institute)

Simulations suggest that camera has about a 160-degree field of view.

Better cameras

bug's eye camera

(Image credit: University of Illinois and Beckman Institute)

The current camera has 180 imaging units, or ommatidia, but the researchers say that number could be scaled up to millions.

Real eye vs. camera eye

insect with digital camera eye

(Image credit: University of Illinois and Beckman Institute)

It's hard to know how an insect really sees the world, but simulations of the new camera suggest it creates something similar, composed of many small parts combined into a larger image.