Home Gadget World World’s first self-powered camera can film forever

World’s first self-powered camera can film forever

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Here’s the world’s first fully self-powered video camera, capable of
recording creepy images of a person’s head and occasionally gaping mouth
for eternity. Well, technically, until the parts wear down, but
theoretically, this device can film forever thanks to an internal
mechanism that keeps charged at all times.
Developed by scientists at Columbia University’s Computer Vision Laboratory in the US, the
prototype has been built upon one very simple concept: digital cameras
and solar panels might have very different purposes – one measures light
to create images, the other converts light to electricity – but they
both use roughly the same technology and components to achieve this. By combining both we got a perpetual recording device that
doesn’t require any batteries or external power supply… as long as
it’s near a steady stream of light.

“A few different designs for image sensors that can harvest energy
have been proposed in the past,” lead researcher, Shree K. Nayar, said in a press release. “However, our prototype is the first demonstration of a fully self-powered video camera.”

The basic component of this new video camera is a semiconductor device called a photodiode,
which allows it to switch between the two sensor functions –
photoconductive for capturing images, and photovoltaic for charging up
the camera. The camera had to be initially powered-up using a 2.74 V
external power source, but after that, it’s all on its own.

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The researchers describe the technology on their website:

“A
sensor architecture is developed where, during each image capture
cycle, the pixels are used first to record and read out the image and
then used to harvest energy and charge the sensor’s power supply. 

We
have conducted several experiments using off-the-shelf discrete
components to validate the practical feasibility of our approach. We
first developed a single pixel based on our design and used it to
physically scan images of scenes. Next, we developed a fully
self-powered camera that produces 30×40 images.”

It may not
produce the best-looking picture, but it’s enough to set up in the
jungle to monitor elusive wildlife, or use as a security camera, or
perhaps we could install one on another planet to keep an eye on
things. 

“Even though we’ve used off-the-shelf components to
demonstrate our design, our sensor architecture easily lends itself to a
compact solid-state imaging chip,” said Nayar.
“We believe our results are a significant step forward in developing an
entirely new generation of cameras that can function for a very long
duration – ideally, forever – without being externally powered.

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