Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a nickel-size, curvilinear camera with a 3.5x optical zoom. Or, to put it simply, an eyeball camera.

The lens and photodetectors are on flexible substrates. A hydraulic system then changes the shape of the substrates, allowing the zoom capability.

Beneath both the membranes of the detector and the simple lens are water-filled chambers. By extracting water from, or injecting water into, the chambers, the detector surface or thin membrane can become a convex or concave hemisphere. Northwestern Engineering  provides the details.

According to the research team, the device could have uses in night-vision surveillance, endoscopic imaging, and consumer electronics. And, of course, the development is great news for any near-sighted robots!