Camera Uses Sensor with Only 1,000 Pixels to Capture Mega-Pixel Videos


Sensors in cell phones and single-lens reflex cameras (SLRs) are made of silicon, which is sensitive to the visible wavebands of light and therefore useful for consumer photography. In many wavebands that are outside silicon's sensitivity, sensing can be very expensive. Two examples are in short-wave infrared and mid-wave infrared - the cost of a megapixel sensor in both wavebands is typically in the tens of thousands of dollars. Consequently, high-resolution short-wave and mid-wave infrared sensors are too expensive to be affordable for the average consumer. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Columbia University have developed a new camera, called LiSens, that uses a sensor with just a thousand pixels, but produces images and videos at nearly a mega-pixel resolution. LiSens takes a low-resolution sensor and by the use of a novel optic makes it capable of sensing scenes at a resolution that is higher than that of the sensor. This is achieved by focusing the scene onto a digital micromirror array (DMD) and, subsequently, focusing the DMD onto the low-resolution sensor. The DMD is an array of tiny mirrors that can direct light towards or away from the sensor.