Image quality isn't the only measure of a camera's functionality. The PFCA, developed by a Cornell Postdoc, has a mere 20-pixel resolution but its size and construction will allow it to go where few cameras have been before.
The Planar Fourier Capture Array (PFCA) is constructed from a single piece of doped silicon and lack either a lens or any moving parts. Measuring a mere 100th of a millimetre thick and only a half millimetre on each side, its 20-pixel-wide images are captured using mathematical Fourier Transformations. Basically, the PFCA doesn't record images as a whole. Instead, each pixel records one component of the image by measuring the individual incident angles within it. This disparate data is then patched together by a computer into a unified image. "It's not going to be a camera with which people take family portraits, but there are a lot of applications out there that require just a little bit of dim vision," states Gill.
Nothing on the PFCA requires off-chip manufacturing, which results in an incredibly small and light miniature camera that costs pennies to produce. This allows the camera to be, say, implanted in your skull to image neurons or used by satellites to measure the angle of the Sun or even help tiny robots to navigate.
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