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A Single Pixel Camera

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the high-tech-pointilism dept.

190

BuzzSkyline writes "Scientists at Rice University have developed a one pixel camera. Instead of recording an image point by point, it records the brightness of the light reflected from an array of movable micromirrors. Each configuration of the mirrors encodes some information about the scene, which the pixel collects as a single number. The camera produces a picture by psuedorandomly switching the mirrors and measuring the result several thousand times. Unlike megapixel cameras that record millions of pieces of data and then compress the information to keep file sizes down, the single pixel camera compresses the data first and records only the compact information. The experimental version is slow and the image quality is rough, but the technique may lead to single-pixel cameras that use detectors that can collect images outside the visible range, multi-pixel cameras that get by with much smaller imaging arrays, or possibly even megapixel cameras that provide gigapixel resolution. The researchers described their research on October 11 at the Optical Society of America's Frontiers in Optics meeting in Rochester, NY."

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190 comments

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513069)

imagine a beowulf cluster of these!

Re:fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513103)

imagine a beowulf cluster of size 12 boots comming directly at your arse!

I don't get it... (3, Interesting)

red.alkali (1000125) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513087)

It'll make current cameras, with simpler technology (less micromirror arrays and whatnot) cheaper? How? This stuff sounds expensiver.

Re:I don't get it... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513135)

Sure it's expensiverest at the moment. But with economisationalisation from upscalifying the process you could see it cheapifying quickly.

modify parentificator upwardly (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513155)

Cat got your tongue? (something important seems to be missing from your comment ... like the body or the subject!)

Re:I don't get it... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513425)

Jean Marc:

Ho Ho, you Americans and English really are speaking a different language. In France we have a saying: "Vive le difference". Now, how would you say that in Eeenglish?

Clint: "Well, I guess we'd say "Let's happify the non-communality!".

Alex: "No, No, No. We would NEVER say that...".

Re:I don't get it... (3, Informative)

ericwb (126929) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514353)

That's vive la différence. Difference is a girl in French. :)

No real French speaker would make this kind of mistake...

Re:I don't get it... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513739)

Snakes have two penises, used alternately, but newts get by without even one. They make a bag of sperm that their partners pick up.

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513765)

Dude, take a bow. This was good stuff. You should be on The Daily Show.

PS: Appropriately the captcha for this comment is "jester".

Re:I don't get it... (1)

Takari (856622) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513251)

It's sort of like a backwards TV -- "eventually", you could take a picture and get back a stream of data --provided they can do this fast enough (probably not with the mirror stuff)

There's the question... (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513293)

Is it really cheaper to manufacture micromirror arrays that CCD or CMOS sensors?

Also, what degree of photon loss do you have from the arrays? No mirror is perfect...

Re:There's the question... (5, Informative)

andy_t_roo (912592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513351)

within a certain wavelength range (down to where actual atomic structures break up the smoothness), a perfectly flat material with no resistance has perfect reflection (that's why the silver back on a glass mirror is so reflective, is very flat and conductive

Re:There's the question... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513655)

Is it really cheaper to manufacture micromirror arrays that CCD or CMOS sensors?

Not likely. And it certainly doesn't sound mechanically robust to have moving parts replace a purely electronic chip. Cameras need to be rugged.

Also, what degree of photon loss do you have from the arrays? No mirror is perfect...

Imperfection in the reflectivity is probably secondary to diffraction, which will be a big problem for these small mirrors - and they would have to shrink even further for reasonable (multi-Mpixel) image resolutions. Diffraction is the biggest limiting factor for contrast in DMD projectors.

There are other problems with this design. First off, it is a time-sequential acquisition. The reconstruction algorithm assumes that all measurements are taken from the exact same scene. God knows what garbage it produces if you have moving objects or camera shake.

I guess their biggest motivation is to do the image sensing directly in compression space. Unfortunately, their compression space is vastly inferior to the compression space of, say JPEG. You see, JPEG is very cleverly designed in that it doesn't actually zero out certain frequencies directly - it just quantizes higher frequencies more agressively than lower ones, and that results in data that compresses better with a lossless compression algorithm (Huffman). By contrast, this compressive camera thing essentially directly zeroes out certain frequencies that have low amplitude. Not a very good idea perceptually.

Any picture can be represented by a single number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513111)

0011011

MOD DOWN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513477)

It's hello.jpg :-(

Re:MOD DOWN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513953)

I thought it was the dude from goatse.cx :(

101 (5, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513113)

This is me with Natalie Portman at a Star Wars convention (I'm the second 1).

Re:101 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513211)

Sorry but due to the lossey process it is impossible to tell if hot grits were present,
Please take another photo and maybe the randomness of the process will enlighten us.

Re:101 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513613)

The '0' was a hot grit you blind fool!!

Re:101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513607)

The main question is:

Can you use it to see through clothes? Is that a naked 1? and what 1 is naked :X :X :X

Re:101 (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513771)

and what 1 is naked

I think you mean which, not what. Sorry, sometimes I just can't resist my primal grammar nazi instinct.

Re:101 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513803)

to gp: i find this image highly offensive. please remove it or i will sue you! won't someone please think about the children!

11 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16514189)

That's me and Scarlett Johanson (I'm the first 1). We're best friends.

Applications (3, Interesting)

zaydana (729943) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513117)

This could have some awesome applications, especially on space missions. Imagine the next generation of mars probes and the resolution of the pictures taken if a camera near the size of current ones could have thousands of times the resolution. And of course, you also need to think about spy satellites. But perhaps the coolest application would be on space telescopes...

Re:Applications (4, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513153)

This could have some awesome applications, especially on space missions. Imagine the next generation of mars probes and the resolution of the pictures taken if a camera near the size of current ones could have thousands of times the resolution.

This is unlikely for several reasons 1) resolution is far more limited by optical aperture than by the CCD array, 2) the system reads its images over a longish span of time - not good when your target is passing rapidly beneath you, and 3) the system requires considerable postprocessing - this either means you have to slow down the rate at which you take pictures, or eat scarce communications bandwidth.
 
 
And of course, you also need to think about spy satellites. But perhaps the coolest application would be on space telescopes...

The same objections apply to both applications.

Re:Applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16514361)

The world of astronomy is used to long exposure times and postprocessing.

Already done better in 1999 (5, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513367)

Check this out [osti.gov] In 1999 scientists at Los alamos national lab did essentially the same thing. Except they went one better---they also added in Phase detection by heterodyning the receiver.

Instead of using micro mirrors, the Los alamos team used an LCD which were more mature at the time. And Instead of using random modulation they used a progression of zenike polynomials and thus achieved much more control over the data compression.

patented too (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513407)

A patent [osti.gov] for "A single element detector acts as an array"

Re:Applications (4, Informative)

tkittel (619119) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513369)

Actually a less fancy version of this technique was already used on mars pathfinder where several images were taken of the same objective and then combined to obtain better resolution.

"Superresolution image processing is a computational method for improving image resolution by a factor of n[1/2] by combining n independent images. This technique was used on Pathfinder to obtain better resolved images of Martian surface features."

Taken from the abstract of this article [inist.fr]:

Re:Applications (4, Interesting)

eonlabs (921625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513379)

It makes more sense for small applications, I would think. A 39MPix CCD is several inches in each dimension. A single pixel would easily fit under a fingernail without anyone noticing. Depending on the mirror arrangement, you could probably have a lens-less camera that is not much bigger than a few grains of sand.

Re:Applications (1)

tsjaikdus (940791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513673)

What's the difference between compressing pixels of stored data and compressing pixels on the fly? Well for one, there're less algorithms that you can use if you don't store. Unless you save data first there's no looking back and forth. That is to say suppose you can extract all you need from the previous pixel, what then is the problem with fractal compression? Why can't we still not save an image effectively into very few pixels and a key? I think there's nothing remarkable about this camera.

that's one big pixel (5, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513127)

Scientists at Rice University have developed a one pixel camera.

The camera's one pixel, but when you print it out full size, you get a mega pixel.

one more ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513133)

.. dupe. editors, how do you compare to goldfish?

photo album (5, Funny)

chowdy (992689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513137)

. here's me at the grand canyon . oh man, here's where i got drunk off of my ass . here's me apologizing for this terrible joke

Had to be said... (5, Funny)

tonigonenstein (912347) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513143)

One pixel should be enough for anybody.

Re:Had to be said... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513423)

What the fuck, how can you people think this "joke" is funny STILL?!?!? Do you have no concept of humor?

Voyager worked (still works?) like that (5, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513161)

Early space cameras were single pixel and scanned their surroundings by their rotation.

Early fax machines worked the same way, but spun the paper around while the single photocell moved linearly left to right.

Hmmfff - Guess I'm giving my age away...

Re:Voyager worked (still works?) like that (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513539)

Early CT scanners worked essentially the same way as well, with one sensor that was spun around.

IANAE (an engineer) but I don't know if moving parts in a camera that's going to jiggle around anyway is such a good idea. At certain resolutions would you end up with the sum of the human factor's jiggles - plus the movement of the innards - distorting the picture even worse than today's cameras?

Re:Voyager worked (still works?) like that (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513639)

Hmmfff - Guess I'm giving my age away...

FUCKING FAGGOT isn't an age, dumbass.

Mars Viking lander (2, Interesting)

cellmaker (621214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514081)

Check out Mars Viking lander. It used a "nodding" mirror with a 12 pixel array for its camera. This link gives a very detailed discussion on the Viking camera. http://dragon.larc.nasa.gov/viscom/first_pictures. html [nasa.gov] A rather large slide show document gives a very high level overview of different imaging devices used in space probes. http://www.mps.mpg.de/solar-system-school/lectures /space_instrumentation/11.ppt#281,1,Slide1 [mps.mpg.de]

First IR Detectors (1)

neurostar (578917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514337)

The first IR astronomy imagers worked like that as well. With a single pixel. In fact, just last year I was in a class where we made a radio map of the sun using a single pixel (dish) radio telescope.

The sounds like just a different way to do the same thing people have been doing for 30+ years..

Nothing for nothing (5, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513167)

If you record only (lossy) compressed data, that will limit your image quality.
If you record things "pseudo-randomly", it'll be harder to get a predictable result
If you record a billion pixels instead of a million, you'll need to store them.
If you reduce the number of pixels, you reduce your redundancy.

It's still an interesting idea and probably has some specialist applications that will be very practical. But don't look for this in your Nikon or Canon camera in the next 10 years. Not sure what they are but if it can be made small enough I imagine a gigapixel camera on a space probe or better yet a space telescope (which can have more time to collect data) might be one. Of course it could also end up useless. That doesn't mean the technology shouldn't be explored. You never know what's going to provide the next breakthrough in understanding or application.

Re:Nothing for nothing (5, Interesting)

The Panther! (448321) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513345)

I think you may be missing the point (har har).

What they are recording is not solely a pixel, I would suspect, but the configuration of mirrors that achieved that point. So, there is a significant amount of information that they can extrapolate from just a random number seed and the final color. The plenoptic function that describes the transfer of light from the environment to the plane of the sensor is 4D. By capturing from many different non-parallel input rays onto a sensor, you can extrapolate a lot about the environment that isn't present in a purely parallel data set.

What I suspect they're goal is, is ultimately getting an array of mirrors onto a consumer-grade camera, and having it take three or four shots in rapid succession, then merge the information gained from each so that the result is more like having a High Dynamic Range image (well beyond the capabilities of any consumer-grade sensor) and use a tone-mapping algorithm to bring it back into a typical 8-bit range per component. It's complicated, but not impossible. Similar such things that are only a year or two old in the graphics community (flash + non-flash images being merged to give good color in low-light situations, multiple exposure images merged for HDR, etc) should come out in a couple of years as automatic modes for color correction, probably even on low-end cameras.

Of course, I still have a 6 year old point and shoot, so what do I know? :-)

Flatscreen camera? (1)

etu (300362) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513687)

Why not to think this vice versa.

It should not be impossible to create a camera using a flat screen LED TV. Every pixel is sensitive to light.

Then the problem is that you don't have any idea of the direction of the light but you have plenty of spots with light information.

You might be able to get 3D picture from the room where TV is located.

Orwell 2010?

Sensor propeties (1)

davros-too (987732) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513911)

The other key element of this is the sensor properties. When you only have to have one sensor rather than a large array of pixels you can achieve very different performance. For example a photon-counting photodiode can achieve in some conditions much better performance than a million CCD elements, even though each CCD element gets a million times longer exposure. I suspect this is most likely to be important outside the visible and near-visible where CCD and other silicon array technologies perform so amazingly well. Think of the far infrared for example.

Other wavelengths (5, Interesting)

vespazzari (141683) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513189)

I have often thought that it would be really neat if you could get a visual image of radio waves like around for example 2.4ghz and be able to see exactly how your surroundings block/absorb/reflect those wave - in addition to seeing sources of the waves. They mention that might be possible by throwing a different sort of detector instead of a ccd in there? anyone know - would that be possible? do 2.4ghz waves bounce off anything else like light does mirrors, without getting scattered?

Re:Other wavelengths (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513453)

I think the question on that frequency levels is not the sensor but the mirrors.
I would like to know what kind of material (polished metal should reflect nice as used on wifi antennas) and the size and shape of that mirrors. We can forget the size of that waves is much bigger than visible light's.
Once solved that I think that idea would be reeeeally interesting.

Nasete.

Re:Other wavelengths (1)

Sterling2p (922774) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513591)

It might also be cool if we could merge the picture with our visible spectrum, or the image displayed on some cool goggles.

Re:Other wavelengths (4, Interesting)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513833)

Radiowaves are big and they go through just about everything. It would look like a bunch of stuff made out of glass with varying degrees of transparency. Metal things would be darker glass, but anything less than one wavelength in size would be fuzzy and impossible to focus on anyway. In the distance, you would see a bunch of different colored lights flashing where ever there's a radio tower or cellphone. (Each different station would be a different color.) At night, you can see flashes in the sky where distant HAM radio stations bounce off the ionosphere. All your household electronics would glow the faintly in the same 60 Hz color, and you could probably make out all your wiring just sitting in one room and looking around, if it weren't for the fact that it all blurs up due to the size of the wavelength.

Re:Other wavelengths (2, Interesting)

MrBoombasticfantasti (593721) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514275)

Nice vivid description! I would like to render such a scene, but alas, I couldn't model myself out of a wet paper bag. Maybe someone else is up for it?

Non-static images (1)

Tim_UWA (1015591) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513215)

Since it's impossible to record the data for each pixel in parallel like conventional cameras do, wouldn't it be impossible to take a picture of anything that's moving?

Re:Non-static images (3, Informative)

tftp (111690) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513283)

It would be indeed impractical, and that makes this method quite useless in most applications. The researchers asked themselves "what if that single pixel receptor is good and expensive" while most modern answers are quite opposite to that - it's easier to make plenty of medium quality sensors than one good sensor. Not even counting the micro-mechanics needed. Solid state already gives you several megapixels for a few dollars, and the cost is only going down.

Re:Non-static images (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513413)

It would only be a problem if you can't capture a sufficient number of pixels in a small enough amount of time.

any astronomy (2, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513227)

or low light applications? i wonder what this idea would be like extended to non-electromagnetic phenomena, like electron microscopes, or neutron detectors or nuclear colliders or gravity waves. well, you need mirrors... "micromirrors"... but their are analogs to mirrors in non-electromagnetic phenomena. sort of

Who's ever heard of Rice? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513253)

Rice fight never die.
Blue, grey in-the-sky.
Stand, cheer, drink more beer.
Go, go, goooooo Rice!

slow shutter much? (3, Interesting)

Wizzerd911 (1003980) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513259)

my 2 MP camera has a hard enough time taking a clear picture when I'm holding it as still as I can and it's got like a 1/60 second shutter or something ridiculously fast like that. If you record an image one pixel at a time, it can't possibly be faster. Even those seemingly magic DLP mirrors couldn't possibly be faster.

easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513459)

dont shake with other hand while taking the picture

Re:slow shutter much? (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513561)

Even those seemingly magic DLP mirrors couldn't possibly be faster.

      Do not underestimate the power of our shiny disco ball.

Re:slow shutter much? (1)

tehSpork (1000190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513593)

"Do not underestimate the power of our shiny disco ball."

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

Re:slow shutter much? (1)

SagSaw (219314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514403)

my 2 MP camera has a hard enough time taking a clear picture when I'm holding it as still as I can and it's got like a 1/60 second shutter or something ridiculously fast like that. If you record an image one pixel at a time, it can't possibly be faster. Even those seemingly magic DLP mirrors couldn't possibly be faster.

I think the trick here will be to use an accelerometer, or some other means to sense changes in the pixel's position and orientation, and then take this into account as the software forms a complete image from the individual pixels.

Oh, come on! This has been known for ages! (2, Interesting)

cpotoso (606303) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513281)

In fact, the first "TV"s were composed of a spinning disk with holes in front of a photomultiplier tube (the disks scanned the different bits of the image onto the camera), reconstruction was later done mechanically too. Where is the novelty?

can't wait (5, Funny)

zoefff (61970) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513295)

can't wait for the first four pixel camera. Imagine the resolution of that one! ;-P

Finally Cutting It Close Enough? (1)

jbdaem (959867) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513343)

Seems to me we may be approaching a time when we can record e'every waking moment, maybe even in REM, so recording the entirety of ones exsistence is just that much close.r' Anyone flashing back to Williams' , Robins' in "The Final Cut?' The possibility of abuse is deafening.... J.M.b A J.v.v.J D.j. P.s. sO Silence. -- -

Now THERE'S a reality show we need (3, Funny)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513401)

Lock ten marketdroids in a room and give them a task to try and create a marketing campaign for something impossible and ridiculous. Like a one-pixel digital camera.

I'm envisioning a sticker on the box that reads "THE ONLY MICRO-MEGAPIXEL CAMERA!"

Re:Now THERE'S a reality show we need (1)

tehSpork (1000190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513549)

"Less is more!"

"It isn't the size that counts, it's how you use it."

And you could go on... :)

Re:Now THERE'S a reality show we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16514411)

One array of mirrors, infinite* opportunities for fun!

*Infinite as defined by Terms and Condition. Do not feed mirrors to small children.

So this is a reverse CRT... (1, Insightful)

Viceice (462967) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513417)

So this is in effect doing the reverse of what a CRT monitor does isn't it?

-gdfhgdhtd (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513435)

This seems to be simply stupid.

The more magapixels a camera can capture an image in the higher the detail. A 1 pixel camera takes all of the detail the lowly human eye can see and reduces it to a number that even the lowly human brain can't make any meaningful sense of.

I mean great. A photo of little green men on mars staging a pro Castro rally and a photo of a porn star deep throating both get the same single pixel numerical value.

What's the point?

How is this a leap forward?

exotic sensors (2, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513461)

this could be useful for imaging in frequencies or frequency ranges where production of a pixel array isn't possible or economically feasable

Great for portraits... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513469)

No more clients requesting I use the "thin" lens on them.

The point is focus and low light capability (4, Informative)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513567)

This is a lenseless design and therefore does not have problems of focus. The different parts of the scene should all be in focus simultaneously. There is no sensible way of schieving this with a lensed design since the better the light gathering power, the narrower the plane of focus.

The technique in use for years for infra-red cameras involves the use of a single (Peltier-cooled) pixel and a scanner, but scanners have numerous problems one of which is that there is always vibration caused by the two frequency components of the line end switching of the horizontal and vertical scans. This technique, by using pseudo-random switching, should eliminate vibration.

So the ultimate long term goal would appear to be the ability to produce 3-D images with focus throughout the entire scene, low light capability and an absence of blur due to vibration. IANAOR (I am not an optical researcher) but it seems a good line of investigation.

Huh?! (-1, Flamebait)

MicrosoftRepresentit (1002310) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513827)

What the hell are you on about? Low light capability? Which one of your inbred brother/father/mother's asses did you pull that fact from? Do you have any idea how a camera works? What an aperture is? How the hell can a single pixel sensor without a light-gathering lens perform well in low light? Without lenses, the 'aperture' of your camera is going to be the size of the pixel, so yes you will get extraordinary focus but appalling performance in low light. Ignoring the sensitivity of the detector, there will always be a tradeof between depth of field and light sensitivity. This is basic photography, and also basic sampling/information theory.

Re:Huh?! (1)

SagSaw (219314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514387)

Ignoring the sensitivity of the detector...

In this case, that is probably a mistake. Since there need only be one pixel, that pixel can be significantly larger than a pixel on a standard CCD which translates to much greater sensitivity.

Single gate microprocessor (1)

v4vijayakumar (925568) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513569)

Could we apply it to the microprocessors?! Single core is enough first, and then we can move towards dual, quad and 80 core processors.

Practical uses. Why the stupid comments? (5, Interesting)

mattr (78516) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513695)

Pretty surprised at all the dumb comments on this story. The scientists involved are not demeaned by consumers being used to cheap megapixel cameras, nor by a secret lab having done something that sounds similar, nor by some patent existing. Slashdot really sucks!

If you are interested you can find out a lot about the really fascinating and cutting edge science of computationally assisted optics, or whatever is the correct term. It is the same field as the people who have been experimenting with giant arrays of cheap cameras, capturing entire light fields that can be sliced in time and space and reprojected later on, etc. It is computers plus physics and a big dose of creativity, which is why it is related to SIGGRAPH too.

Anyway this is interesting and is based on different principles from current megapixel cameras, which is why they think it might improve current cameras too. Just like the way the spaghetti physicists were laughed at by Harvard's igNobel, even though they finally solved something Feynman couldn't crack and have discovered a new method for focusing energy.

Just off-hand, the one pixel camera and compressive imaging theory they have looks very interesting:
  • A one-chip computer with transmitter, battery and 1 pixel camera could be worn on your cuffs or collar and capture/assemble from random angles through which it is jangled your entire surroundings.
  • Could be used if mounted on a wire tip and wire oscillated giving many views of an object for cheap 3d scanning
  • Camera could include one pixel per range of spectrum, recording a full electromangetic spectrum
  • They are doing only some simple compression right now. If your current camera could do wavelet compression within the ccd you could certainly get much better pictures and reduce the storage needed.
  • If current cameras can do all the work needed in 1/500 of a second that means they could be doing a lot more if only compression, transmission and storage are solved, that is what they are working on.
  • The one pixel camera uses random projections to achieve a certain density of information that seems to be constant throughout the light field they are capturing. This means if they store orientation and time accurately, their data can be sliced at constant quality in any direction, so it is homogenous data which is good. Imagine slicing diagonally through Kraft cheese block or through swiss cheese.
  • Compressive imaging might help video camera manufacturers wrap their heads around recording at far higher frame rates, including side radio bands for orientation, or combining multiple image sources. Compression in the imaging chip means less data to handle elsewhere.
  • If you read some of the bibliography (the Architecture one) you will see use of Haar wavelets to reconstruct an image from a 3-dimensional (200,000 voxel) data structure which performs much better than a 2-d one due to the sparseness of data. This paper also talks about the use of bands for which CCD use is impossible.



Amazing new idea.. oh no wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16513795)

Ermm... Vidicon anyone? :-)

Some advantages (2, Insightful)

WebfishUK (249858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513817)

I guess that having all your data acquired by a single acquistion element may yield some precision advantages. One of the problems with arrays of elements is that each element will have very slightly different purity levels which can have a subtle effect on the signal acquired. Obviously not much of a issue for visible light photography but in situations where signal levels are very low for instance in gamma ray detection, this may yield benefits.

moving parts? power and reliability (2, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513845)

OK the mirrors are micro-mirrors, but I still have concerns with the complexity of this thing. It seems to be counter to the trend of making operations execute in parallel, rather than serially as they are often originally developed.I can see that it may carve a specialised niche for itself, but it doesn't look like it could take over the "happy snaps" market.

With all the moving parts, how much power does this array consume? What happens if one of the actuators sticks: do you get dead pixel effects?

Random sampling vs compression (3, Insightful)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513871)

How can an image which is constructed psuedorandomly ever compare to an image that is compressed using algorithms designed to preserve 'important' information?
It seems to me you need to assemble the image before you can decide what to throw away.

Dual Photography (1)

geirt (55254) | more than 7 years ago | (#16513873)

These researchers [stanford.edu] are doing something similar, they are using a photo-resistor as a single pixel camera, and a video projector for illumination. Take a look at the video (63M) [stanford.edu], it is a mind blowing demo of the technology.

here we go again (2, Informative)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514235)

This kind of thing has been used for a long time: Nipkow Disk [wikipedia.org], Drum Scanner [wikipedia.org]. The combination with micromirror arrays is new.

However, there's a reason we "acquire first, ask questions later", as the article talks about current systems: electronics is much better at "asking questions" than mechanical hardware.

Narrow-bandwidth Television Association (1)

giafly (926567) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514331)

This is ancient history, of course, but if you're interested there's a club for enthusiasts.

"Mechanical scanning devices which can be used include the Nipkow disc (shown above), the drum, the mirror drum, the mirror screw, oscillating mirrors and combinations of these. The camera usually has a lens to form an image which is then scanned and the light passes through to a photocell which generates the electrical signal" - Narrow-bandwidth Television Association [wyenet.co.uk]

Part Number (2, Insightful)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514369)

There has been a single pixel camera available for a long time, under the part number ORP12.

nanowerk, same thing, 18 days ago? (1)

ciantic (626550) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514479)

http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=876.php [nanowerk.com]

Is that about the same thing, because I am seeing very old news (18 days)! Someone "from" the Slashdot should begin to read Nanowerk, they've got some interesting news, ... all the time.

PS. I've got nothing against blogs as a primary news source.

Hex Guessing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16514497)

This could actually be REALLY useful for what me and my friend do, trying to guess the hex values of real life colours.
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