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 (opens in new tab).
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.(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) 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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