Cambits: Colorful Blocks That Transform Into Many Different Cameras


Cambits is a new modular camera being developed by scientists over in Columbia Engineering’s Computer Vision Laboratory. It’s a set of colorful plastic blocks that can be assembled into a custom camera of your choice.

There are 5 different types of blocks: imaging sensors, light sources, actuators, lenses, and optical attachments.


Depending on which of these blocks you choose and how you decide to put them together, they can be used for a number of different purposes, from HDR photography, panoramic imaging, light field imaging, depth imaging, and even microscopy.


“We wanted to redefine what we mean by a camera,” says Columbia professor Shree Nayar, “Traditional cameras are really like black boxes that take one type of image.”

“We wanted to rethink the instrument, to come up with a hardware and software system that is modular, reconfigurable, and able to capture all kinds of images,” he says. “We see Cambits as a wonderful way to unleash the creativity in all of us.”

The Cambit blocks are 3D printed and attach to each other via magnets. Once attached, the blocks are able to communicate with one another via spring-loaded pins, which transmit power, data, and control throughout the assembled camera.



Here’s a video showing how the system works and what it can do:

This proof of concept stage of the project took 2 years to reach. The researchers are now searching for a manufacturing partner in hopes of bringing Cambits to the public.

(via Columbia Engineering via Gizmodo)