Self-powered camera can take pictures forever

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By Larry Banks

A new type of camera powered by the light it uses to actually take the pictures has been invented by scientists in the US. The camera generated power by converting some of the light that falls on its sensor into electricity, that is then used to take a picture.

Self-powered camera

The camera could in theory take a picture every second, forever. But the creators are now looking at ways to improve the device and also commercialise the technology.

“We are in the middle of a digital imaging revolution,” said Professor Shree Nayar, director of the computer vision laboratory at Columbia University in New York who invented the device. “A camera that can function as an untethered device forever – without any external power supply – would be incredibly useful”.

Self Powered Camera

Nayar said the idea to create the camera came about when he realised that solar panels and digital cameras use almost the same technology, called a photodiode, to handle light. And working with engineers, he managed to create one that combined the light-sensing capabilities of a camera with the power-converting properties that solar panels have.

The next step was then to use many of the combined photodiodes and create a grid that senses the intensity of light that falls on it, and converts some of the light into power to capture an image.

At the moment, the sensor grid is only 30 x 40 pixels in size and takes only poor quality black and white images. But to demonstrate its capabilities, Professor Nayar and colleagues used the self-powered camera to shoot a short film. He says that the next step is to make a self-powered, solid-state sensor with more pixels that could then be used to make a standalone camera that can be used anywhere.

The device could also be used to reduce the power consumption requirements of all sorts of gadgets, such as smartphones, or when not being used to take pictures, it could also function as a power generator.


Images Courtesy of DepositPhotos