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New Medical Camera the Size of a Grain of Salt

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the unlocking-the-mysteries-of-your-salt-shaker dept.

Biotech 132

kkleiner writes "The German Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration recently reported the development of a camera with a lens attached that is 1 x 1 x 1.5 millimeters in size, which is roughly as big as a grain of salt. At about a cubic millimeter in size, this camera is right at the size limit that the human eye can see unaided. The camera not only produces decent images but is also very cheap to manufacture — so cheap, in fact, that it is considered disposable."

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Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35785730)

Privacy, we're fucked....

Re:Privacy (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785998)

Privacy, we're fucked....

Since a long time ago.. This makes it easier to fight back. Let the damn cops try to find the camera now.

Re:Privacy (1)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786074)

That's an interesting take on the situation... except you still have to hook it up to a power supply and a recording system in order for it to be useful, and provide some sort of environmental shielding around the camera and the cable. The bulk of a camera today isn't found in the sensor.

Re:Privacy (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787214)

That's all okay. It doesn't have to look like a camera. And you don't have to look like you're filming anything, so nobody can identify the cameraman. So even with their twisted interpretation of wiretap law, nobody can be charged. You might not be able to use the video (nor want to, without giving yourself away) as evidence in court, but you can still tag the cop on youtube.

if they are so cheap.... (1)

CTU (1844100) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785740)

....then I might want to pick one up to play around with it and maybe find other uses for it

Re:if they are so cheap.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35785864)

....then I might want to pick one up to play around with it and maybe find other uses for it

Is it wrong that the first application I thought of was to give one of these to the Goatse guy? :)

Re:if they are so cheap.... (1)

CTU (1844100) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786246)

Why did you have to put such a thought into my head!?

Re:if they are so cheap.... (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786532)

....then I might want to pick one up to play around with it and maybe find other uses for it

Is it wrong that the first application I thought of was to give one of these to the Goatse guy? :)

Yes. You could get a Panavision film camera in there.

Re:if they are so cheap.... (4, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786668)

1. The image is 250 x 250 px at 44 fps.
2. It's so tiny that there's no way it could have a useful FOV for anything macroscopic, much less be able to focus on anything more than a few cm away.
3. This is medical technology we're talking about, so there's probably a hundred-thousand licensing fee to even look at it, even if the camera itself is only a few pennies.

"considered disposable" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35785746)

"The camera not only produces decent images but is also very cheap to manufacture — so cheap, in fact, that it is considered disposable."

It better be disposable, because at that size you're bound to lose a few of them here and there.

Do the cameras taste good on baked potatoes with butter?

Re:"considered disposable" (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785896)

It better be disposable, because at that size you're bound to lose a few of them here and there.

However, the authors of the article seem to have very bad eyes, if 1x1x1.5mm is already at the limit of what they can see unaided.

Re:"considered disposable" (1)

catchblue22 (1004569) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785988)

However, the authors of the article seem to have very bad eyes, if 1x1x1.5mm is already at the limit of what they can see unaided.

...limit of what the human eye can see at a distance of...

Re:"considered disposable" (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786258)

... at any distance.

There are objects which are large enough that you can see them, provided they are in a place where you can see them (this place depends on the size of the object). This includes stars, plantes, tennis balls, flees. Then there are objects which are so small that you cannot see them with the naked eye, regardless of where they are. This includes electrons, atoms, molecules, bacteria. The limit of things you can see is somewhere between bacteria and flees. It definitely is much smaller than 1x1x1.5mm.

Re:"considered disposable" (1)

Jake Griffin (1153451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786920)

I can't see flees. That's a verb. I can see fleas though.

You have to take this announcement... (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785750)

...with a grain of salt.

(But watch out, that grain of salt might be a tiny camera.)

Re:You have to take this announcement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35785844)

*Badum bum Tshhhh*

That was the comic stylings of MrEricSir ladies and gentlemen! Let's give him a BIG hand!

We're having a special on the veal parmesan with a carafe of wine for $19.99.

Up next, Daring Darrel and his death defying fleas!

Re:You have to take this announcement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786420)

Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaar...

well... (0)

strack (1051390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785764)

i think ill be taking this with a grain of salt. /badumpssht.

That's some big ass salt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35785770)

Maybe it's that kewl pretzel salt.

Re:That's some big ass salt. (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786998)

Seriously.
This ain't your run of the mill table salt.

wow that's big compared to taco's penis (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35785772)

So it's, what, 10x the size of CmdrTaco's penis?

SI units fail? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35785780)

I don't know what would be more amazing. People confusing a 1mm cube for a "grain of salt", or people being unable to see a 1mm cube object without aid. That's like the size of a ball bearing, or short grain rice! I didn't realize SI units were this hard to grasp...

Re:SI units fail? (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785822)

Yeah. 1mm x 1mm x 1.5mm isn't anywhere near approaching the smallest size the human eye can see unaided (remember the iPhone's retina display?). And they probably meant Kosher salt (the kind they put on pretzels).

I suspect that what they meant was that, the average person would just barely be able to spot one of these stuck on a nearby wall unless they got up close to it, where they'd be able to see it better.

Re:SI units fail? (1)

Hultis (1969080) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785936)

The iPhone 5 will probably be coming with a new revolutionary display with an amazing 25.4 dpi - and since Steve Jobs (and Slashdot!) says humans can't see the pixels, I doubt anyone buying it will.

Re:SI units fail? (1)

thynk (653762) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786020)

Oh good, I'm not the only one who noticed that a grain of salt is smaller than a match head. I thought for a moment they were talking about the little dot in the middle of that thing, not the whole device itself. Whew... I may not use mm to measure very often, but I didn't think my perception of it was that off.

Re:SI units fail? (2)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786344)

The actual press release said a grain of "coarse" salt.

Re:SI units fail? (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787106)

Disposable cameras [google.com] smaller than a grain of "course salt" [himalayan-...-lamps.com] have been commonly available for decades [wikipedia.org] .

[/pedantic]

Re:SI units fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786224)

How on earth is this related to a SI units fail?
Would you prefer if they wrote the article using a measurement system from a foreign country (they are in Germany, after all) and said it was 0.003 feet cubed, or even 0.039 inches cubed? How about 4.97096954 × 10^-5 chains then? 4.97096954 × 10^-6 furlongs? 0.0001988 rods?

Me, I prefer 1mm cubed.

Seriously, get over imperial measurements.

Re:SI units fail? (1)

Jake Griffin (1153451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787170)

You [google.com] are [google.com] a [google.com] little [google.com] off [google.com] ... 1 mm ~ 0.003 ft, but 1 mm^3 ~ 0.003^3 ft^3 ~ 3.5 × 10^-8 cubic feet

Re:SI units fail? (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786676)

People confusing a 1mm cube for a "grain of salt"

A 1mm cube seems to be a pretty good match for a grain of salt [seul.org] and while that is certainly not invisible for the human eye, if you watch it from a meter away you could certainly run into trouble finding it.

Re:SI units fail? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787308)

    Ya, that left me wondering too. Maybe they're measuring the human perception of an object at say 30' or something. :)

    I still don't get this insane concept of size that people keep trying to apply. as big as a grain of sand, car (VW bug or Lincoln Limo?), or as much information as the Library of Congress. {sigh}

    It's not just on here, nor on poorly written news stories. I find people grasping at the idea of how to express size all the time. I always start with "Is it bigger than a bread box?" That seems to throw anyone under about 35, since they've usually never seen a bread box. It lets me have some fun though. "Picture a standard loaf of bread. 30cm x 15cm x 15cm. Now picture a box that would comfortably contain said loaf of bread without distorting its physical shape. They would typically be made from wood, but sometimes other materials are used. So for the sake of this argument, lets assume 2cm thickness on each side. Is the object you are trying to describe more than 34cm x 19cm x 19cm. Or approximately 7,650 cubic centimeters, or 0.27 cubic feet, or 65 gill."

    For some reason, people just give up about half way through it. It's a great way to get them to stop asking stupid questions. :)

Insect Eyes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35785788)

Put enough of them together and we might be able to make a decent approximation of the faceted eyes of insects

Privacy Schmivacy (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785794)

Privacy died a long time ago. At least when I get to the age where I have to worry about prostate cancer I won't be quite so... butthurt about it.

Re:Privacy Schmivacy (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786112)

A tiny camera won't do much good for you if you are thinking only of prostate cancer. For that you can use the PSA blood test, but after an anomaly is identified you will have to be subjected to the touch exam. Unless someone makes a device to measure the prostate's volume, texture, density, etc., which will definitely not be a camera.

Re:Privacy Schmivacy (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786552)

Unless someone makes a device to measure the prostate's volume, texture, density, etc., which will definitely not be a camera.

It's called an ultrasound [medscape.com] . Now, roll up your sleeves and bend over.

I hope its disposable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35785800)

otherwise, I would hate to be the intern on "recovery duty" when this camera is used in medical practice. All that squishing and sifting....

In America.... (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785834)

In the United States, where the hospital bills for a procedure of this kind are likely to run into thousands of dollars, "disposable" has a pretty broad definition.

Re:In America.... (2)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785902)

That's what I thought too. TFA doesn't say, but the press release (one of the "sources" listed in TFA) indicates that they'll be bringing disposable endoscopes to the market in 2012 for "only a few euros".

Also, "decent" image = 250x250 pixels at 44 FPS. No indication of whether it's color or grayscale, but I suspect it's grayscale. The press release says it supplies "razor-sharp pictures", but I suspect that's only by comparison to existing endoscopes...

Re:In America.... (2)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786010)

Maybe 'razor sharp' is like after your wife uses in on her legs but forgets to mention it...

Re:In America.... (2)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786362)

I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I need a car analogy.

Re:In America.... (1)

xenn (148389) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786494)

it's razor sharp, like a car driving under a truck trailer

Re:In America.... (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786610)

It's likely grayscale, but you just put three of them together, one with a red filter, one with a blue filter and one with a green filter and you've got color. 250 x 250 isn't near good enough for medical endoscopy, but you obviously can stack a couple of them together in an array - that's old tech. Extra points for making a radial array and reconstructing a nearly 360 degree image.

In Soviet Russia (0)

proverbialcow (177020) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785928)

....healthcare cameras dispose of YOU!

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786056)

HAHA! i loled, good one

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787326)

Soviet Russia had universal healthcare, so at least the disposal wouldn't cost you anything. ;)

Re:In America.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786088)

I don't like this.

Re:In America.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786204)

In the United States, where the hospital bills for a procedure of this kind are likely to run into thousands of dollars, "disposable" has a pretty broad definition.

Yes, because the billable time for the techs, the cost of certification of the equipment and various other overhead costs nothing.

Re:In America.... (1)

stoborrobots (577882) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787204)

In the United States, where the hospital bills for a procedure of this kind are likely to run into thousands of dollars, "disposable" has a pretty broad definition.

Yes, because the billable time for the techs, the cost of certification of the equipment and various other overhead costs nothing.

I think the point is that if the various overheads you mention are on the order of $5000, an extra $500 "disposable" camera is reasonable, even if in other contexts the idea of throwing away $500 worth of equipment seems unreasonable...

Re:In America.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786520)

Agreed.

Moreover, why would they want to implement new technology that is an order of 2 cheaper than current practices. Goes against the whole premise of the current US healthcare: maximize profits...

Re:In America.... (4, Insightful)

fotbr (855184) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786594)

Not if you can bill the customer more for the "latest and greatest".

Just because it costs health care providers less, that doesn't mean that you should expect it to cost YOU less.

Are you blind? (3, Insightful)

Shin-LaC (1333529) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785838)

A cubic millimeter is hardly "at the size limit that the human eye can see unaided". A fleck of dust is quite a bit smaller than that, and perfectly visible.

Re:Are you blind? (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785888)

Nor do grains of salt that the typical diner encounters run that size. This is closer to the size of a grain of rice (short grain, uncooked), for those who aren't aware of what a millimeter is.

Re:Are you blind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786452)

I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I need a car analogy..

Re:Are you blind? (-1, Offtopic)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785906)

So is Sarah Palin's brain, and she can see it from her house, even in those goofy glasses.

Re:Are you blind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786054)

really going for that low hanging fruit, eh?

Re:Are you blind? (0)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786412)

As long as there's none lower nor fruitier.

Re:Are you blind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35787236)

Well, you come to mind as far as being lower and fruitier. And more useless to boot!

Re:Are you blind? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785922)

And an exploding ball of gas a million miles apart can be much harder to see than a spec of dust. I'd say whoever came up with that statement is kind of retarded, even ignoring the lack of a distance to the object. After all... compare a single pixel - . - to 1mm x 1mm. That's at least an order of magnitude smaller, yet I can see it comfortably from 3 feet away.

Re:Are you blind? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786000)

It depends how far away your eye is from it. The claim stands.

Re:Are you blind? (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786040)

It depends how far away your eye is from it. The claim stands.

Then you could make the same claim for anything.

"US Navy reveals a a new battleship that is smaller than the human eye can see*

*if the human is 5 million miles away from said battleship"

Reasonably, 'at the size limit the human eye can see' to me means exactly that. There is a size below which you can't see unaided, no matter how close you bring your eye to the object because there's a limit to how closely your eye can focus. That size is at least one, and probably 2 orders of magnitude smaller than this camera.

Re:Are you blind? (1)

Pennidren (1211474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786064)

I can't see the Eiffel Tower from where I am sitting, either. It must be at the size limit that the human eye can see unaided. My claim stands.

Re:Are you blind? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787382)

    So, you're saying the camera is the size of a moon. ... wait ...

    That's no moon ... It's a space station.

Re:Are you blind? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786346)

Just as a comparison, the capacitor in this image [gjcp.net] is about 0.75x0.75x1mm - and I really only use the USB microscope if I need a photograph of the board to show any water damage or anything like that. The transistor below it is about the same size as this camera. I don't even use a magnifier for parts that large.

There are some SMT parts that actually *are* the size of a grain of salt. I *do* use a magnifier for those.

Re:Are you blind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786458)

fyi, you're using too much solder

Re:Are you blind? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786554)

That's before I started soldering it. That's how it left Kenwood. I haven't got any "after" pics.

About half my work at the moment involves removing lead-free solder from equipment and resoldering it all with leaded solder, just to clean up that sort of mess.

Slow Down Cowboy!

Slashdot requires you to wait between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment.

It's been 10 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment

Dear Slashdot Janitors, please fix your broken site.

Re:Are you blind? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786550)

Nobody has defined the distance.

Re:Are you blind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786616)

Yes but a cubic millimeter is at the size limit an average US reader can comprehend.

Re:Are you blind? (2)

Noren (605012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786664)

I used to work doing single-crystal X-ray crystallography, one part of the job was mounting a crystal onto the tip of a tiny glass rod. I was looking for a single crystal no larger than 0.5 mm in any direction, and hopefully at least 0.1mm in the smallest dimension, though at times they were smaller than that if they were needles or thin planes. I would sometimes work under a not particularly powerful magnifying glass, though it's quite possible to see a crystal that size with the naked eye, even colorless, transparent crystals as most of these were. Being quite nearsighted was actually a plus, as I could take off my glasses and at 5 cm or so away see objects of that size quite well with the naked eye.

Poetry (2)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785876)

Sprinkle vision on the wind,
like grains of sand I see.
motes of thought they drift and float,
and bring my data back to me.

Re:Poetry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786220)

The was a young lady from Carolina
Who got grains of sand in her vagina
Though some were cameras yet
And the whole internet
Shocked her into attack of angina

Re:Poetry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786268)

Tiny camera
Engineered in Germany
Pushes the limit

an App for that... (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785900)

might be cool to see blood coursing through your veins, or the contents of your stomach on your iPhone :)

Re:an App for that... (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786094)

Sure, but finding a good place for the processor and transmitter in your veins might not be so easy. This thing is JUST the camera (but a cool invention none the less).

The stomach however, isn't a problem. I've heard of people putting much stranger things in their digestive systems...

Re:an App for that... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786146)

might be cool to see blood coursing through your veins, or the contents of your stomach on your iPhone :)

A technical embolism?

Re:an App for that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786240)

I saw the contents of my stomach all over my Iphone once. Not nice.

. . . at about a cubic millimeter in size. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35785938)

Actually it's about 2 mm^3, but hey, who rounds anymore, right?

Limit of human vision? (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785958)

I must have amazing vision because I can see things way smaller tha 1x1x1.5 mm.

Surveillance / espionage uses! (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785972)

Bab Shaw's book Light of Other Days makes a very good case for why something like this should NEVER be developed.

Re:Surveillance / espionage uses! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786036)

Right?

"And, of course, every government interested in keeping a closer eye on its citizens but doesn’t have a lot of cashahemwill probably be watching this technology closely."

AND every shady corporation, mafia group, terrorist organization. And of course the government will then NEED this technology themselves to watch them. What nobody wants to admit is that the Orwellian state is DRIVEN by technology, not policy. But the researchers go on and on, with grain of sand size cameras, brain reading devices and all the rest, gleefully passing the buck to policy makers and what the uses should be, gleefully ignoring the fact that policy makers will powerless to enforce anything if they lose their edge by not deploying the technology.

Re:Surveillance / espionage uses! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786328)

"Government spies are everywhere
  in your home and in your hair
  lurking in their secret lair
  counting dollars" -Gilbert Shelton

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/12/330415.shtml [indymedia.org]

Poo Cam (0)

angiasaa (758006) | more than 3 years ago | (#35785990)

Cool! We can now ingest cameras and then poop them into a disposal chute! From the mouth to the anus; camera superhighway!

"Considered Disposable" (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786044)

Well, they better be, if any sort of recovery device is going to be several times the size of the camera itself...

My Margarita! (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786090)

My Margarita has a thousand eyes! GAHHH!

Put them in an array (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786126)

If they're so tiny and cheap it's bound to be interesting to make, say, a 10x10 array of these (or maybe 100x1?) and do true 3D in stead of stereo.

Certainly will be interesting: (1)

ChristianMc (1627201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786152)

In terms of business and certain privacy concern intensive work, the constant shrinking of recording technology like cameras and the increasing undetectability of such devices makes for an interesting future, as far as secrets and company trust is concerned.

Then again, we can generally hope that as the technology to make these devices advances, so does the technology to be able to find them.

Light Source? (1)

theVP (835556) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786164)

Okay, the tiny camera is good, but I didn't see any mention of a light source.

It's kinda, you know, dark in there.

Re:Light Source? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786260)

I would think the light source is easy - a fiber optic cable about the diameter of a human hair, connected to an external light source. Disclaimer: I know nothing about endoscopy.

Diminishing Returns (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786200)

Nine months from now, will these seem large and cumbersome?

Porn! (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786288)

Sperm cam!

Here's an idea. (1)

siberian.dodo (1798142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786476)

Make this wireless, and people wont have to have giant tubes stuck down their throat during endoscopy. Or keep the giant tube, shove a whole bunch of these boys in, and create street view of the entire digestive system...

Re:Here's an idea. (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786686)

We already have that. It's called capsule endoscopy [wikipedia.org] and it has been in use since 2001.

It's just that it's more expensive than traditional endoscopy so it isn't widely used yet, except in cases where traditional methods can't reach.

Picture of the camera (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786484)

In case you didn't check the link, here how the camera looks like:
.

Seriously!

Put 16 of the sensors together to get 1-megapixel. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786570)

Put 16 of the tiny sensors together and you have a still very small 1-megapixel camera that could still be swallowed and would yield a view that is not just "good enough" but would be accurate enough to see malformations that could be pre-cancerous.

Haiku (2)

skidisk (994551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786584)

Camera small, like dust
Travel by wind, or fiber
Fantastic Voyage.

Re:Haiku (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786944)

Ah! Dropped the damn thing

Where are my glasses? Oh no

Trod on it. The pain

Just in time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786698)

for my colonoscopy!

Article Full Text (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786798)

I couldn't get to the article directly or via coral cache OR google's site cache.. luckily google did have a text copy available, which I will provide for you here, free of charge:

Can you barely see this camera? Well, that's because it's right at the unaided resolution limit for the human eye.

Thanks to a German research institute, in the very near future, we may not even see the cameras looking back at us at all.

It may not be news that camera technology is getting smaller, but it is newsworthy when an important milestone is reached. Take the announcement from the German Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration for example. They recently reported the development of a camera with a lens attached that is 1 x 1 x 1.5 millimeters in size, which is the size of a grain of salt. At about a cubic millimeter in size, this camera is right at the size limit that the human eye can see unaided. The camera not only produces decent images but it is also very cheap to manufactureâ¦so cheap in fact that it is considered disposable. Though researchers developed the camera in collaboration with the Portuguese company Awaiba, the makers of digital camera sensors, for use in medical endoscopes to view all the nooks and crannies inside the body, other applications in electronic devices are already foreseen. There's even speculation that auto makers may utilize these microcameras as replacements for side mirrors in next-gen cars. And, of course, every government interested in keeping a closer eye on its citizens but doesn't have a lot of cashâ¦ahemâ¦will probably be watching this technology closely.

It's clear that the Fraunhofer researchers didn't set out to hit this milestone in camera technology. What they were really interested in was trying to improve upon endoscope technology. An endoscope involves a camera at the tip of a tube. The tube contains a wire that transmits the image back to a computer. The tube also serves as a way to physically manipulative the camera to snake it through the gastrointestinal tract, for instance. Typical endoscopes cost around $25,000-30,000 so they must be reused many times. Because the endoscope is going in and out of people's bodies, it must be cleaned and sterilized between each use, which just drives up the cost of maintaining the instrument. It's no wonder that hospitals charge more than $2,000 per endoscopy.

All of this, however, would change if the camera was cheap enough to throw away.

To accomplish this, the Fraunhofer researchers worked with Awaiba to redesign the endoscopes. Typical endoscopes have a lens at the tip but the sensor that converts the image into a digital signal is at the other end of the tube. Ideally, the lens and sensor should be close together so that they have direct electrical connections, which would help make the camera smaller. But previous designs forced connections between the lens and the sensor to be done individually rather than in a batch process because of the sensor's design. This is an expensive and time consuming process. The sensors are made on a wafer and previously each wafer would be diced up into 28,000 individual sensors so that the lenses could be attached. What the Fraunhofer researchers accomplished was to redesign the sensors, allowing the connections to be made on the back of the sensor rather than on its side. This means that a wafer of lenses could be mounted and electrically wired to the wafer of sensors, then the stack could be broken into 28,000 devices. The result is that the each microcamera can be made incredibly small for much less than before.

So how good is the camera? For endoscopy, pretty good. The resolution is 62,500 (250 x 250) pixels and can produce a frame rate of 44 per second at this resolution. That's not exactly the âoerazor-sharpâ pictures as claimed by the press release, but for endoscopy, it fits the bill. Now compared to an iPhone camera, which also contains a CMOS sensor but records nearly a million pixels at 30 frames per second, the Awaiba sensor is not yet ready to be in cell phones. Clearly this camera is still in the prototype stage, but researchers claimed that a disposable endoscope will be available in 2012. It is only a matter of time before the technology becomes more widespread and even cheaper to produce.

What makes this device such a landmark in the storyline of camera technology is that it is right on that uncomfortable verge of becoming invisible to the naked eye, and that is both good and bad. The good news is we can expect to see this or similar camera technology find its way into very compact electronic devices, making the two-way wrist TV of Dick Tracy fame a very near reality. The bad news is that this type of camera technology could usher in a surveillance society that would put the current Orweillian UK, with its 69 CCTV cameras for every 1,000 people, to shame. Fortunately, wi-fi chips are still chunky compared to these cameras, with typical wi-fi chips being ten times larger in size. But it is only a matter of time before wi-fi chips reach the grain-of-salt milestone and then the age of inexpensive, invisible wireless cameras will be upon us. Yikes.

Disposable Endoscopes already exist (1)

ue85 (1961968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786894)

Pill sized disposable endoscopes already exist, though much larger than this. Most combine some sort of light with them as well because without it they are fairly useless. This won't perform anything novel when it comes to endoscopy but rather has more potential patient compliance as well as novel imaging of smaller pathways rather than just upper and lower GI. (Example: http://www.wolfsonendoscopy.org.uk/capsule-endoscopy-information.html [wolfsonendoscopy.org.uk] )

Specifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35787116)

Have a look - I found these on the Awaiba site.
http://www.awaiba.com/v2/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/NanEye_Camera_system_Spec_v0.0.05.pdf

Awesome (1)

Married to Christ (1806168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787250)

development for hotel owners and land lords. You could easily set up multiple angle shots in shower cubicles.

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