Cameras of all types, embedded or otherwise, use something called image sensors to capture images and record video. Not too much time in the future, this may no longer be normal.
Researchers from the Johannes Kepler University in Linz have created a very suitable alternative though.
At first glance, it looks like a flat, flexible, transparent plastic sheet.
Upon closer inspection, one can find that the invention is a flat, flexible, transparent plastic sheet, but one that can be overlaid on displays and gives them camera sensor capabilities.
In other words, the polymer film, a luminescent concentrator embedded with countless tiny fluorescent particles, can turn any display into a camera, or can be used independently.
Most of the light passes through the film (hence the transparency), but some is scattered through it and absorbed, then detected by an array of optical sensors located around the perimeter.
Where the light entered the film in the first place is determined through measuring the relative brightness of this light.
So far, only low-resolution black and white images have been generated, but several layers of the films can increase the resolution, even capture color.
“To our knowledge, we are the first to present an image sensor that is fully transparent – no integrated microstructures, such as circuits – and is flexible and scalable at the same time,” says Oliver Bimber of the Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria, co-author of the Optics Express paper.
“In CT technology, it’s impossible to reconstruct an image from a single measurement of X-ray attenuation along one scanning direction alone. With a multiple of these measurements taken at different positions and directions, however, this becomes possible. Our system works in the same way, but where CT uses X-rays, our technique uses visible light.”
The new film could be applied to everything from smartphones to digital handheld cameras, larger video equipment, laptops, TVs, monitors, etc.