With a just a single megapixel, this camera can see around corners

one megapixel camera sees around corners 7999512287 1b6c44921b k
Dani Da La Cuesta / Flickr
Megapixel counts continue to climb, but some of the biggest new camera features could only be possible with a single megapixel — like photographing objects that you can’t actually see. A research group from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China led by Bin Bai recently designed a 1-megapixel camera that can photograph objects the human eye can’t even see from the same angle.

The single-megapixel shooter can photograph objects that aren’t in it’s direct line of sight, like what’s around the corner. Like traditional cameras, the new experimental shooter records light, but unlike most, the camera can capture reflected light and make out an object that’s around the corner.

The camera doesn’t need a direct line of sight to the object,  as long as it is facing light that is bouncing off that object. Light naturally bounces off objects — that’s what makes it possible for a photographer to bounce a flash off a wall for a less intense light or why taking a photo of something next to a bright green wall will give that object a green hue.

The process of taking the actual photo starts with randomizing the light that hits the camera and recording the intensity. Do that 50,000 times and software algorithms can not only put all those randomized pieces together, but from all those individual photos construct an image of the object based on only that reflected light.

While the camera will have limitations, resolution isn’t one of them. Since the camera reads the image 50,000 times, when all that data is combined, the result is a high-resolution file, despite the sensor’s 1-megapixel resolution. One of the limitations is likely going to come from those 50,000 photos — while the research team didn’t say how long it took to take that many photos with the camera, requiring that many exposures likely means the camera won’t be able to photograph moving objects.

The research group isn’t the first to attempt to build a camera that can see around corners — a group from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received funding from the United States Department of Defense for a camera that sends out a laser that bounces off those objects. Based on the varying times when that laser comes back to the camera, a computer algorithm can develop a digital reconstruction using distances calculated all from that laser’s reflection.

The single-megapixel camera with similar capabilities is one in a growing list of products using a small, single-megapixel sensor to do things other cameras cannot — like a camera without a lens and a camera that measures only 2mm deep.


OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.

From DSLRs to mirrorless, these are the best cameras you can buy right now

From entry-level models to full-frame flagships, many cameras take great photos and video. The best digital cameras, however, push the industry forward with innovative sensors and improved usability, among other things. Here are our…
Product Review

Canon democratizes full-frame with the EOS RP, but keep your expectations low

At just $1,300, the RP is Canon's least expensive full-frame camera yet, but it was born into a world of high-end, high-cost lenses where it doesn't yet feel at home.

Using A.I., Lightroom can now boost the resolution of RAW photos

Need to eek a bit more resolution out of a RAW file? Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw can help with a new feature called Detail Enhance. The tool uses A.I. in the demosaicing process to enhance details and reduce artifacts.

Tight on space? Here’s how to transfer photos from an iPhone to a computer

Never lose any of your cherished selfies or family vacation photos from your iPhone again by learning how to transfer photos from your iPhone to a computer, whether you want to use a cable or wireless transfer.

Corel VideoStudio adds tools for customizing color in simple video edits

VideoStudio is Corel's more consumer-oriented video editor but the software recently gained advanced color correction tools. The update adds custom transitions, along with speeding up performance, and adding new shortcuts.

500px reveals almost 15 million users are caught up in security breach

Almost 15 million members of portfolio website 500px have been caught up in a security breach. The hack occurred in 2018 but was only discovered last week. Users are being told to change their 500px password as soon as possible.

Olympus packs an enormous zoom ability in its latest interchangeable lens

The Olympus Digital ED M.Zuiko 12-200mm F/3.5-6.3 has the widest zoom range of any interchangeable lens with a 16.6x zoom. The lens, which covers a 24-400mm equivalent, is also weather sealed.

Nikon brings a classic workhorse lens to the Z series with new 24-70mm f/2.8 S

The Nikon Z series finally has a bright zoom available without an adapter. The Nikkor Z 24-70mm F/2.8 S offers new coatings and more customizable controls in a smaller, lighter body than the comparable F-mount lens.

Nikon will bring eye-detection autofocus to the Z6 and Z7 in May

An upcoming firmware update will bring Eye AF to the Nikon Z6 and Z7 -- along with improved autofocus performance in low light. The update will also give the cameras support for the CFexpress format.

Fujifilm’s X-T30 is a semi-pro, feature-rich camera that’s affordable to boot

Fujifilm's newest mirrorless camera delivers the premium features of the X-T3 without the premium price, giving aspiring enthusiasts a lower-cost option that can still match the image quality of Fuji's flagship.

Fujifilm XP140 squeezes more durability, low-light ability into a waterproof cam

Fujifilm's waterproof compact can now head even further underwater. The Fujifilm XP140 features several upgrades, including a more durable body, a wider ISO range for low light, and expanded auto modes.

From f/1.2 primes to the mysterious DS, here are Canon’s upcoming RF lenses

Canon's EOS R mirrorless series will gain six new lenses this year. Canon just shared a list of six lenses under development, including four zooms and two prime lenses. One has a mysterious new feature called Defocus Smoothing.

Photography news: Wacom’s slimmer pen, Leica’s cinema special edition

In this week's photography news, Wacom launches a new slimmer pen for pro users. Leica's upcoming M10-P is designed for cinema, inside and out, with built-in cinema modes in the updated software.