World's smallest camera is smaller than a pinhead

(Image credit: AMS)

Weighing just 1g, Austrian company AMS has announced they have made the world's smallest camera. The NanEyeC has a footprint of just 1x1mm so is smaller than the size of a pinhead.

The 102,000 pixel camera only shoots in black and white, but is designed to be invisible when mounted in wearable devices, such VR headsets – and will doubtless also become the ultimate spy camera.

The manufacturers speculate that the camera could be used in a wide variety of different devices. In Augmented Reality headsets, it could be used to track the eye movements of the wearer, for instance. It could also be used for detecting people in smart buildings - controlling lighting and air conditioning. The NanEyeC could also used for collision avoidance in the smallest drones, or in robot vacuum cleansers. And finally, these small cameras can be used in surgery - giving a view inside the narrowest of veins. 

The NanEyeC camera is a full-featured image sensor supplied as the 1mm x 1mm lensed surface-mount module. It provides digital image data at a maximum resolution of 320px x 320p. Each pixel has a width of 2.4µm. Its rolling shutter can output at a maximum speed of 58 frames per second at 75 Mbps.  

Combining a wide-angle view with a good depth of focus, the NanEyeC is said to boast the speed and picture quality needed for an emerging set of video applications where the camera must be virtually invisible to the end user, or be accommodated in a very small space.


The NanEyeC is available for evaluation for potential purchasers mounted on a Raspberry Pi microcomputer (Image credit: AMS)

Dina Aguiar, Marketing Manager for the Micro Camera Module product line at AMS, said: “Due to the NanEye's tiny dimensions and high image quality, the product family already has a loyal following among medical endoscopes manufacturers. Now the NanEyeC consumer version offers the same quality and performance in a compact package suitable for mounting on the space-constrained PCB in wearable or mobile devices.”

Microscopic camera similar to this are already available. In 2019, the OmniVision OV6948 entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest ever imaging sensor. Whilst the Omnivision sensor was aimed exclusively at medical and diagnostic uses, the AMS unit is hoping to make an invisible appearance on consumer and industrial devices in the near future.

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Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 

His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 11 Pro.

He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.