MIT researchers are at it again: the university’s latest research project to receive attention from tech blogs the world over is their new self-cleaning, anti-glare, fog-resistant glass. They’re calling it “multifunctional” glass, and by using a nano-textured surface it eliminates glare and fogging entirely, essentially making it invisible.
As an added bonus, water droplets “bounce” off of this type of glass like little bouncy ball. As of right now the process involved in making the glass is complicated and would be too expensive to implement on a large scale, but the researchers have both hope and ideas for how to make this a reality. When that happens, photographers can cross their fingers that we’ll start seeing lenses made of this special glass. We certainly hope it happens: no dust, no fog, no glare… yes please!
MIT’s Media Lab is no stranger to innovation; from super-high-speed cameras to cameras that can see around walls, they always seem to be on the cutting edge of imaging innovation. Their newest project, the EyeRing, is yet another innovative idea that could some day revolutionize the way we take pictures and experience our world. Read more…
Back in 2010 we shared that MIT was developing a special camera that uses echoes of light to see around corners. Now, two years later, the researchers are finally showing off the camera in action. It works by firing 50 “femtosecond” (quadrillionth of a second) laser pulses 60 times at various spots at an angled wall. A special imaging sensor then collects the scattered light that’s reflected back and uses complex algorithms to piece together the scene based on how long the photons take to return. The process currently takes several minutes, but researchers hope to reduce it to less than 10 seconds, which would make it more useful for military and industrial applications.
Here’s an interesting look at the amazing camera being developed at MIT that shoots a staggering one trillion frames per second — fast enough to create footage of light traveling:
[...] the researchers were able to create slow-motion movies, showing what appears to be a bullet of light that moves from one end of the bottle to the other [...] Each horizontal line is exposed for just 1.71 picoseconds, or trillionths of a second, Dr. Raskar said — enough time for the laser beam to travel less than half a millimeter through the fluid inside the bottle.
To create a movie of the event, the researchers record about 500 frames in just under a nanosecond, or a billionth of a second. Because each individual movie has a very narrow field of view, they repeat the process a number of times, scanning it vertically to build a complete scene that shows the beam moving from one end of the bottle, bouncing off the cap and then scattering back through the fluid. If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years. [#]
They believe that the technology may one day be useful for medicine, industry, science, or even consumer photography.
MIT scientists have discovered that graphene, a material consisting of one-atom thick sheets of carbon, produces electric current when struck by light. The researchers say the finding could impact a number of fields, including photography:
Graphene “could be a good photodetector” because it produces current in a different way than other materials used to detect light. It also “can detect over a very wide energy range,” Jarillo-Herrero says. For example, it works very well in infrared light, which can be difficult for other detectors to handle. That could make it an important component of devices from night-vision systems to advanced detectors for new astronomical telescopes.
No word on when DSLRs will start packing graphene sensors.
Here’s a long exposure light painting tutorial by a couple MIT Media Lab students. In addition to teaching the basics of the technique, they also show off a robot arm that they programmed to do extremely precise light painting photos and animations. Read more…
According to the smart folks over at MIT, this video shows footage that was captured at an unbelievable one trillion frames per second. It appears to show some kind of light pulse traveling through some kind of object. Here’s a confusing explanation found on the project’s website:
We use a pico-second accurate detector (single pixel). Another option is a special camera called a streak camera that behaves like an oscilloscope with corresponding trigger and deflection of beams. A light pulse enters the instrument through a narrow slit along one direction. It is then deflected in the perpendicular direction so that photons that arrive first hit the detector at a different position compared to photons that arrive later. The resulting image forms a “streak” of light. Streak cameras are often used in chemistry or biology to observe milimeter sized objects but rarely for free space imaging.
A group of neuroscientists at MIT recently conducted a study to try and determine what makes photographs memorable. After gathering about 10,000 diverse photos, they showed a series of them to human subjects and asked them to identify whenever a photo was a repeat of one previously shown. They found that photos containing people in them are the most memorable, while natural landscapes are least memorable and easily forgotten.
What’s more, the scientists used the findings to develop a computer algorithm that can quantify how memorable a particular photo is. Cameras in the future might be able to tell you the memorability of photos as you’re taking them!
The “femtosecond transient imaging system” is a camera being developed by researchers at MIT that uses high intensity light from a femtosecond laser to capture images from around corners. Once the laser beam bounces around the scene and returns to the sensor, algorithms are used to turn the time and distance information into a representation of the scene. Read more…
A Day in the Life of MIT (ADITL) is a neat project in which members of the MIT community take pictures on a particular day and then pool the photographs together to provide a snapshot of what life was like on that day. ADITL 2010 happened yesterday, and hundreds of people contributed images to the collection. Read more…