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A novel sheet camera developed by Columbia Engineering researchers can be wrapped around everyday objects to capture images that cannot be taken with one or more conventional cameras.

The flexible lens array adapts its optical properties when the sheet camera is bent. The sheet camera produces high-quality quality images over a wide range of sheet deformations.

To capture wide, seamless images with unusual fields of view, the imaging system could someday be placed around street poles, furniture, cars, and clothing. The design could also lead to cameras the size of a credit card that a photographer could simply flex to control its field of view.

The Columbia Engineering team developed an elastic lens array that enables the focal length of each lens in the sheet camera to vary with the local curvature of the sheet.

"The adaptive lens array we have developed is an important step towards making the concept of flexible sheet cameras viable," said Shree K. Nayar, T.C. Chang Professor of Computer Science at Columbia Engineering. "The next step will be to develop large-format detector arrays to go with the deformable lens array."

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