A new type of miniature camera system promises to give users a big picture view without sacrificing high-resolution.

The new imager achieves the optical performance of a full-size wide-angle lens in a device less than one-tenth of the volume. The technology has a 100x range of focus, meaning it can image anything between half a meter and 500 meters away. The camera has 0.2-milliradian resolution, equivalent to 20/10 human vision. Such a system could enable high-resolution imaging in micro-unmanned aerial vehicles, or smartphone photos more comparable to those from a full size single-lens reflex (SLR) camera.

To engineer the new system, researchers turned to monocentric lenses made of concentric glass shells, which are perfectly round like glass marbles. Their symmetry allows them to produce wide-angle images with high resolution and hardly any of the geometrical distortions common to fisheye lenses.

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Also: Learn about a Phoenix Telemetry Processor for robotic arm cameras.