In Brief

Optical sensor that can be added to computer chips for minimal cost.

Taking a photograph of a famous artwork might sound impressive at first, but senior research scientist Patrick Gill, from the technology licensing company Rambus, did it with a lens-free camera that is smaller than a pencil point. Unlike traditional cameras that require lenses, the tiny camera could find a use in security systems, toys, and any other object that is too small for current camera technology. Gill isn’t aiming for a high-resolution camera that you would find in a smartphone or point-and-shoot, instead he wants to build the smallest, cheapest, easiest-to-make optical sensor. The point is that it would still be able to capture enough information to convey what’s happening in a particular scene.

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