Liquid Camera Lens Controlled By Sound

A liquid camera lens developed by scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute may lead to lighter and more responsive cameras in everything from cars to cellphones.


(Liquid camera lens controlled with sound)

The lens is made up of a pair of water droplets, which vibrate back and forth upon exposure to a high-frequency sound, and in turn change the focus of the lens. By using imaging software to automatically capture in-focus frames and discard any out of focus frames, the researchers can create streaming images from lightweight, low-cost, high-fidelity miniature cameras.

To do this, his new method couples two droplets of water through a cylindrical hole. When exposed to certain frequencies of sound, the device exploits inertia and water’s natural surface tension and becomes an oscillator, or something akin to a small pendulum: the water droplets resonate back and forth with great speed and a spring-like force. Researchers can control the rate of these oscillations by exposing the droplets to different sound frequencies.

By passing light through these droplets, the device is transformed into a miniature camera lens. As the water droplets move back and forth through the cylinder, the lens moves in and out of focus, depending on how close it is to the object. The images are captured electronically, and software can be used to automatically edit out any unfocused frames, leaving the user with a stream of clear, focused video.

SF fans recall Frank Herbert's oil lens from his extraordinary 1965 novel Dune. Herbert described it as "oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube."

From Controlling Light With Sound: New Liquid Camera Lens as Simple as Water and Vibration.

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