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The researchers developed tiny camera backpacks for beetles

Illustration for article titled Researcher creates tiny camera backpacks for beetles

photo:: Mark Stone – University of Washington

Every year, companies like GoPro manage to pack more and more functions into ever smaller action cameras that are less intrusive to carry. However, a research team from the University of Washington has managed to build a wireless live streaming camera that is so small Even an insect can carry it.

The camera, developed at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington and funded by a The Microsoft Scholarship and the National Science Foundation are the first to launch a bugView of the world without affecting the mobility of an insect. It’s not quite small and light enough to strap on a fly, but at around 250 milligrams. The camera was successfully carried on displayeath-fstrange beetle and a Pinacate beetle that can carry loads of more than half a gram over steep climbs and even when climbing a tree.

Illustration for article titled Researcher creates tiny camera backpacks for beetles

photo:: Mark Stone – University of Washington

Trying to miniaturize the camera in a modern smartphone is certain Tiny compared to the cameras used by professional photographers, a device would still have been too big and heavy for an insect to carry if the batteries were built in. Capturing millions of pixels with each shot requires a lot of image processing, which in turn requires a lot of power. In an alternative way, the researchers copied nature’s approach to how flies see the world. Their large compound eyes can capture movements over a wide field of view (that’s why they are so hard to beat), but they also have a small, High-resolution region that can focus on prey or other targets, reducing the strain on your tiny brain.

In terms of image quality, The tiny camera the researchers developed faded compared to what was Included on the original iPhone 13 years ago. It’s black and white, has a low resolution, and sends videos to a connected smartphone at a rate of only one to five frames per frame second. To expand the field of view, the lens of the camera can be swiveled back and forth by about 60 degrees. Allow a remote operator to chase a target or create a panorama with a higher resolution without an insect or an equally small robot having to move or reposition, that would consume additional energy.

Image quality buddyIt’s compared to the cheapest camera phones, but just try to get a beetle to carry an iPhone around.
Gif:: University of washington

Because of its size and its approach with low power consumption The camera’s streaming capabilities are also limited. The Bluetooth connection reaches a maximum distance of around 120 meters, so a remote operator must be fairly close to the camera at all times. However, the battery life is surprisingly decent. Not streamingstop, The camera can run for up to two hours. To extend this, the researchers installed an accelerometer so that pictures are only taken and sent when the beetle is moving. This can extend the camera’s battery life to over six hours.

The researchers acknowledge that their design certainly raises some privacy concerns. given how easy It is up to the insects to find their way into your home, which is why they make their creation public instead of secretly buying them from the military and law enforcement agencies. But there are some legitimately interesting potential uses apart from sniffing. The camera could give entomologists new insights into how insects cross their surroundings, respond to threats or other stimuli in the wild, and even take a closer look at their social structures.

With the newly developed camera, an equally small autonomous robot was created that can move at a speed of around 2 to 3 Centimeters per second. That is not allowed sounds quick but it outperforms existing robots of this size. If the technology improves and the research phase leaves, it will not be long before the wish that you are a fly on the wall becomes a reality.

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