MIT develops nano-camera for $500


MIT has developed a nano-camera that can operate at the speed of light and it will cost just $500 (312).

Using 'Time of Flight' technology similar to that integrated in Microsoft's Kinect device, the camera can detect how long it takes for light to pass from the camera and bounce off a device then back to the sensor, making it much more accurate than others available on the market.

It takes inspiration from the telecommunications to see how far a signal has travelled and photography industry used to remove blur from photos.

"People with shaky hands tend to take blurry photographs with their cellphones because several shifted versions of the scene smear together," said Graduate student Ayush Bhandari.

"By placing some assumptions on the model for example that much of this blurring was caused by a jittery hand the image can be unsmeared to produce a sharper picture."

Another key feature of the camera is that it isn't affected by weather conditions such as rain, fog or smoke, making it ideal to track outside applications such as collision detectors for cars.

The group of MIT researchers also said it could be used in medical applications such as 3D imaging of active organs and interactive gaming to improve accuracy of gameplay.

Ramesh Raskar, an associate professor of media arts and sciences and leader of the Camera Culture group within the Media Lab - and co-author of the paper detailing the kit - added: "We use a new method that allows us to encode information in time. So when the data comes back, we can do calculations that are very common in the telecommunications world, to estimate different distances from the single signal."

The solution uses off-the-shelf parts including light-emitting diodes to bring the cost down significantly.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.