An ultra-thin camera is on its way

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Over the years, cameras have gotten a lot thinner and ‘smarter’, with cameras that can send alerts when it is time to order more food and use ultraviolet light to monitor skin damage. However, no matter how thin or how sophisticated, traditional cameras require a curve in order to function – the curve bends the path of incoming light and focuses it onto film or (in the case of a digital camera) an image sensor. As a result, traditional cameras can never be truly flat. Now, engineers at CalTech have developed an ultra-thin camera that can create images without a lens or any mechanical parts. They have replaced the mechanically-controlled lens with a wafer-thin optical phased array, which has a large array of light receivers, allowing the camera to selectively look in different directions and focus on different things.

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