Bug Eye Camera Reviewed

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on May 13, 2013

In the past month, the so called 'bug eye' camera has captured popular attention around the world, from Nature Magazine, to CNN, to the BBC, and dozens more. A research team at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign has developed a camera that can replicate insects’ eyes using hundreds of tiny lenses that they hope can be used in surveillance applications. However, what potential does this have for surveillance?

For this note, we spoke with Professor John A. Rogers, at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who led the project, about the application to surveillance.

How It Works

The camera uses an array of miniature focusing lenses and detectors to see extreme wide angles of view, with high sensitivity to motion and infinite depth of field. From their research paper, an image:

From a press release [link no longer available] announcing the technology: 

“Each microlens produces a small image of an object with a form dictated by the parameters of the lens and the viewing angle. An individual detector responds only if a portion of the image formed by the associated microlens overlaps the active area. The detectors stimulated in this way produce a sampled image of the object that can then be reconstructed using models of the optics.”

Researchers say the critical feature of the technology is its hemispherical design. They believe that a full 180 degree picture with no aberrations “can only be accomplished with image sensors that adopt hemispherical layouts, much different than the planar CCD chips found in commercial cameras."

Resolution

Rogers says the camera’s main disadvantage is resolution. It is “about the same as a fire ant or a bark beetle,” he said. “We think that we can scale to many more lenses than in our current devices.” As the number microlenses on the eye increases, so should the image quality, according to researchers. The current version has 256 microlenses in a 16 by 16 configuration.

He provided the following diagrams:

The images on top are actual images from the camera overlaid on a spherical diagram. The images on bottom are the first resolution goals of the camera. 

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Application 

The professor says the two industries that could likely benefit from this technology are endoscopy and surveillance. 

“We think that the ability of the camera to look in all directions, equally well, at once could be useful. This feature, taken together with an ability to focus simultaneously on objects in the near and far fields, is important for certain envisioned applications in surveillance,” he said. What will make this competitive in surveillance markets, Rogers says, is the ability to have "absolutely no distortions or illumination non-uniformities, all the way out to the very peripheral parts of the field of view."

Scientists at the Max-Planck-Institute in Germany say the technology could have potential in disaster relief operations, helping small vehicles or robots navigate through dangerous areas, “while using other sensors to detect trapped people.”

Production

Rogers is looking for a company that can help turn the idea into a commercial product. He is in discussions with several now, but he declined to estimate when the camera would be commercially available or the cost. 

IPVM Analysis

Bugs may have a wider FoV than humans but evidently with dramatically lower detail. Until and unless the resolution radically improves, we do not see this as viable for surveillance. There is a wide array of relatively low cost, small form factor fisheye panoramic cameras on the market and though they certainly are not perfect, they are many years ahead of the bug eye technology. Even if this project can improve, the core advantage of infinite depth of field is not a major practical concern for most surveillance applications as subject are typically not very close to the camera.

We suspect in areas like medicine where small form factor and close objects are critical concerns, this technology is far more likely to be viable.

 

Comments (1) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

YCombinator AI Startup Visual One Tested on Apr 02, 2020
Startup Visual One, backed by Silicon Valley's powerful Y Combinator, aims to be "Your 24/7 Watchman" with advanced analytics and object...
Dahua Intercom Tested on Feb 07, 2019
Video intercoms are a growing market with video surveillance manufacturers expanding into this niche. IPVM is continuing its series of video...
Avigilon H4 Intercom Tested on Nov 20, 2019
Avigilon is well-known for video surveillance and access, but how well does the company's intercom work? We purchased and tested Avigilon's H4...
Genetec Kiwi Intrusion Detector Analytics Tested on Nov 27, 2018
Genetec has built Kiwi Security's Intrusion Detection analytics into Security Center, aiming to simplify deployment compared to separate camera...
Hikvision Door Station Tested on Nov 30, 2017
Hikvision has entered the video intercom market, aiming to bring the race to the bottom to a whole new audience. To see how it stacks up, we...
Vivotek 4K S-Series Camera Tested on Sep 30, 2019
Vivotek's highest-end S-series camera claims "Supreme Night Visibility", "Smart IR II", "Smart Stream II", "WDR Pro for unparalleled visibility in...
'Sticker' Surveillance Camera Developed (CSEM Witness) on Nov 16, 2018
The Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) has announced what it calls the: world’s first fully autonomous camera that can be...
Hikvision PanoVu 20MP Flexible Camera Tested on Jun 01, 2018
Hikvision has released their first repositionable multi imager cameras with integrated IR included, atypical in competitors. We bought and tested...
Bosch Starlight 8000i Cameras Tested on Jul 23, 2019
Bosch has released their new Flexidome IP Starlight 8000i cameras, claiming "exceptional detail even in extreme low-light situations." To see...
Axis Door Station Tested (A8105-E) on Jul 19, 2017
Axis continues their push into niche markets, especially audio, with network speakers, an IP horn, and video door stations. We bought and tested...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Sperry West / Alibaba Tablet Temperature Measurement Tested on Jul 07, 2020
In April, we ordered a ~$500 temperature tablet from Alibaba. We set it to the side while doing 18 other temperature screening tests but, after...
Video Surveillance 101 Book Released on Jul 07, 2020
IPVM's unique introduction to video surveillance series is now available as a 145-page eBook. Designed for managers, salespeople, and engineers new...
Startup Duranc Presents AI VSaaS on Jul 06, 2020
Duranc presented its system at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from Duranc including IPVM Q&A Background on the...
Low Voltage Nation Wants to "Help You Carve Out A Fulfilling Career" Interviewed on Jul 06, 2020
It is difficult to make your way in this industry as there is little formal schooling. However, one person, Blake Urmos, the Founder of Low Voltage...
The Next Hot Fever Detection Trend - $100 Wall-Mounted Units on Jul 06, 2020
The first wave of the booming fever detecting market was $10,000+ cameras, now interest for ~$2,000 tablets is high and the next big thing may be...
Cisco Meraki Unlocks IP Cameras With RTSP Tested on Jul 06, 2020
Meraki opened up its cameras to 3rd party NVRs/VMSes by offering RTSP streaming because of "the need to solve a business problem". We tested...
Hikvision Illicitly Uses Back To The Future In Marketing on Jul 03, 2020
NBCUniversal told IPVM that Hikvision UK's ongoing coronavirus marketing campaign using NBCUniversal's assets was not allowed. Hikvision mass...
Verkada: "IPVM Should Never Be Your Source of News" on Jul 02, 2020
Verkada was unhappy with IPVM's recent coverage declaring that reading IPVM is 'not a good look' and that 'IPVM should never be your source of...
Vintra Presents FulcrumAI on Jul 02, 2020
Vintra presented its FulcrumAI object recognition and mask detection offering at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A...