What if in the future, the human eye itself could be turned into a camera by simply reading and recording the data that it sends to the brain? As crazy as it sounds, researchers have already accomplished this at a very basic level:
In 1999, researchers led by Yang Dan at University of California, Berkeley decoded neuronal firings to reproduce images seen by cats. The team used an array of electrodes embedded in the thalamus (which integrates all of the brain’s sensory input) of sharp-eyed cats. Researchers targeted 177 brain cells in the thalamus lateral geniculate nucleus area, which decodes signals from the retina. The cats were shown eight short movies, and their neuron firings were recorded. Using mathematical filters, the researchers decoded the signals to generate movies of what the cats saw and were able to reconstruct recognizable scenes and moving objects. [#]
Basically, the scientists were able to tap into the brain of a cat and display what the cat was seeing on a computer screen. Something similar was accomplished with humans a few years ago, and scientists believe that in the future we may even be able to “photograph” human dreams!
Judging from the strange novelty products coming out of Japan, there’s apparently a huge population of people there who love both photography and cats. If a picture taking cat isn’t enough to satisfy you, you can add this cat-shaped memory card reader to your collection. It reads SD cards and Memory Stick cards using slots that are exposed when you lower the cat’s tail. They’re available from Donya for ¥399, or about $5.
Did you know that flatbed scanners make fun portrait cameras as well? Just place your cat on the glass, do a quick scan, and you’ll have a strange looking portrait shot from below! Apparently this is pretty popular among cat lovers — a Flickr search for “cat scanner” returns thousands of results! This gives “cat scan” a whole new meaning!
The Necono Digital Camera is a funky cat-shaped digital camera out of Japan that might make it easier for you to take smiling baby photos. It’s a 3 megapixel camera that doesn’t have any LCD screen embedded for you to review your shots — you have to connect it to a “Monitor Ground” base that includes an LCD or transfer the images to your computer via USB. The cat has a shutter button on its butt, the camera and a self-timer LED in its eyes, and magnetic feet that allow you to stick it in random places.
Like many novelty cameras, the Necono doesn’t exactly come cheap… It’ll run you a whopping ¥15,750 ($192). At least you can be the only one among your friends to take pictures with a cat. Read more…
Animal Planet recently featured Cooper the Photographer Cat, who is apparently becoming a pretty big deal. Cooper is also jumping into filmmaking in addition to his still photography, though we think they should start teaching him how to use a Steadicam to reduce some of the motion-sickness inducing camera shake.
Back in August 2010, Friskies selected 25 cats around the country and gave them the hardship privilege of wearing a camera around their necks, documenting their lives over the course of 5 days. The resulting footage was edited into “Cat Diaries”, the first movie to be filmed entirely by cats. It’s a unique look into what it’s like to see and explore the world as a cat.
Here’s one of those “I could do that! Yeah, but you didn’t” things: a cat named Cooper recently published a book filled with his photographs, titled “Cat Cam“. Basically, a couple named Michael and Deirdre Cross decided to attach a micro camera to their cat’s collar, automatically snapping photographs every two minutes. The book has received pretty positive reviews from both critics (Good Morning America, People Magazine, etc…) and customers. Read more…