The floppy is dead and gone (and not missed). CDs, perhaps even DVDs, have peaked and are on their way out. And despite what diehard film users were insisting in 1998, digital photography finally did kill film, along with film cameras and much of the demand for developing chemicals, red light bulbs, and slide carousels. With such a recent change of paradigms people tend to forget that science marches on in every area, and new technologies in image capture and processing continue to drive new product R&D in both consumer and professional cameras.
Notwithstanding all the great cameras around, including those embedded in smartphones and MacBook Pro rentals, many people settle for the low-res (and/or small) images on their mobile devices. Seeing images from the following emerging technologies may change their minds.
It’s already the future?
Yes, and we make that claim because one futuristic product is already on the market. Lytro is the first consumer-level “light field camera.” Cylindrical and finely crafted, the Lytro does not simply grab a flat image off an image sensor, but captures “the entire light field—all the rays traveling in every direction through a scene—instead of a flat 2D image,” as the Lytro site explains. The micro-lens array does this first step, a bit of hardware magic, followed by some software wizardry: You can change the focal point of an image after it’s been taken, freely adjusting focus and even changing the perspective.
Just as astonishing is the news from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, where scientists have created a revolutionary image sensor that’s 1,000 times more light sensitive than today’s typical sensor, uses 10 times less energy by operating at lower voltage, and costs 1/5th as much. Made of the one-atom-thick material graphene, NTU’s breakthrough sensor appears to be the first one capable of capturing “broad spectrum light” (from mid-infrared to visible), making it a candidate for all kinds of photographic applications—night vision, roadway speed cameras, satellite imaging, and maybe even a future iPad rental.
Higher high-res, new angle on video
Not long ago, researchers at Bell Labs developed a lensless camera that uses just a single pixel at a time, from an array of them (say, 64, but it could be 2 to infinity, theoretically) for image capture. In a random process that really isn’t random, a series of individual pixels open to capture slightly different angles of the scene. (Remember, not every pixel is the same size as one on, say, our LCD touchscreen monitor rental.) More recently, building on that prototype, the scientists began using two pixel arrays, with the second capturing different views of the same scene. The camera’s “compressive sensing matrix” allows various optical options—shifting the perspective, creating separate scenes, and cutting in half the time needed to produce a high-resolution image. The technology presently captures only still images.
MIT was in the news last summer with its new video technology, Eulerian Video Magnification (EVM), which uses “motion amplification” to detect colors and micro-motions, with humans the intended targets. Researchers demonstrated how the technology could “see” the pulse of blood flow through a man’s face by discerning subtle color changes and amplifying the motion. The research is ongoing. Perhaps soon your iMac or smartphone camera will scan your wrist or face to take your pulse and temperature—or you’ll use your Google Glass to see if your date wants to come up for coffee or not (you know, slight increase in temp, heart rate, and respiration). This will be one popular camera!
CRE is popular, too, because we always go the extra mile. From the audio visual (AV) equipment rentals you need for that upcoming conference, to the high-powered computer rentals configured with Adobe software for your most critical creative and post-production work, we’ll give you the best solutions for your needs. Call a CRE Account Executive at (877) 266-7725, send a message, or use the Quick Rental Quote form if you know what you need. We’re here with the gear, and we’re ready to help—right now!