Swiss Research Group Creates Their Own Insect-Inspired Compound Eye Cam


A few weeks ago, a team of researchers from all over the world boasted that they had created the world’s first working compound eye cam at the University of Illinois. Sort of like a balloon with 180 node-like “ommatidia” on it, the camera was quite an achievement.

It didn’t take long, however, for another team of researchers to break into the same market and offer the Illinois camera some bug-eyed competition. The Swiss research group Curvace has created a 180-degree field of view camera that looks a little like something Star Trek’s Geordi La Forge would wear.

Here’s a short intro from Curvace:

The prototype camera is called the Curved Artificial Compound Eye, or CASE. It lines up tiny sensors in lines parallel to each other on a flattened strip, and then bends the strip into a 180-degree semi-circle. Two of these back-to-back could even create a 360-degree field of view.

Like the Illinois camera, it comes with both the advantages and disadvantages of a compound eye cam. By arranging sensors the way they did, they get a 180-degree field of view with nearly infinite depth of field and negligible distortion; the trade-off is limited resolution.


Compound eye cameras such as these will likely make their way into both the civilian and military fields soon, with applications ranging from endoscopes to micro drones to research on insect vision.

For now, both cameras are in the beginning phases with plenty of room left for significant improvement, but the hope is that as resolution improves, we’ll end up with a best-of-all-worlds camera that can see a clear picture of everything, all at once, with unlimited depth of field to boot.

To find out more, head over to Curvace’s website or check out the video above.

(via The Verge)

  • Mako Koiwai

    Why not just use a fisheye lens? Software can remove any distortion … much higher resolution

  • peter

    read the article again…

  • fitzgerald

    microflyers do not have time to process a distorted image when an obstacle is approaching fast… and the authors claim that their prototype has a frame rate of 300 Hz, 3 times higher than fast flying insects !!!

  • 11

    fish eye lens on a optical mouse sensor could provide 1000 hz or more… of course needs a new flow algo, but still..

  • fitzgerald

    a fish eye lens distort the image, so you need postprocessing, which slow down the whole thing. Additionally, fish eye lens field of view is limited to less than 180°