Skip to main content

Scientists create world’s first self-powered camera (though it needs some work)

scientists create worlds first self powered camera
No, the somewhat eerie picture above isn’t showing off a new Instagram filter called Murky (or Dismal?), it’s actually an image taken by a revolutionary new kind of digital video camera that’s entirely self-powered.

That’s right, this particular contraption, developed by scientists at Columbia University, is able to function quite happily without the need for a battery or solar panels, a development that means the dreaded low-battery warning sign on your smartphone or standalone shooter could one day be a thing of the past.

So how does it work? Well, after realizing that camera sensors function in a similar way to solar cells, the team designed a sensor that incorporates technology capable of transferring the light that it receives into usable energy.

“We have designed a simple pixel circuit, where the pixel’s photodiode can be used to not only measure the incident light level, but also to convert the incident light into electrical energy,” the research team said on the project’s website.

Although the camera’s current technology means the resulting images are, to put it mildly, a little on the fuzzy side (the sensor only has 1200 pixels, after all), the scientists behind the project believe big improvements are on the way, and claim its technology “could lead to a fully self-powered solid-state image sensor that produces a useful resolution and frame rate.”

“We are in the middle of a digital imaging revolution,” lead researcher Shree Nayar said in a release.

Columbia University's self-powered camera

He added, “I think we have just seen the tip of the iceberg. Digital imaging is expected to enable many emerging fields, including wearable devices, sensor networks, smart environments, personalized medicine, and the Internet of Things. A camera that can function as an untethered device forever – without any external power supply – would be incredibly useful.”

You can check out a video shot by the self-powered camera above.

[Source: Columbia University]

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
DJI’s 2022 drone contest offers record prize pool
A photo taken from a drone.

Leading drone maker DJI has teamed up with the SkyPixel online community for its eighth annual photo and video contest.

Whether you’re an experienced drone pilot or an absolute beginner still finding your way, the contest is the perfect opportunity to send your machine skyward in a test of your creative skills.

Read more
How $80 of photo processing software magically saved me thousands
photo editing topaz labs denoise ai phil camera

It's a good time to be a photographer, whether you're just starting out and really don't have any idea what you're doing, or if you're a seasoned pro looking to try something new.

The gear is better than ever, making even entry-level bodies better than what the previous generation started out with. Software options make cataloging and processing your photos faster and less destructive, so you can revisit things for years and give old pics new life.

Read more
Sony A7 III mirorless camera is $300 off for Black Friday
Sony Alpha a7 III Mirrorless front view.

There are a lot of great Best Buy Black Friday deals going on right now, and whether you're looking for TVs, laptops, or even headphones, there's a little something for everybody. Of course, many folks may not realize that Best Buy has some fantastic deals on high-end photography gear, such as this Sony Alpha a7 III mirrorless camera. While it usually goes for a whopping $2,200, Best Buy had brought it down to $1,900, and while that relatively doesn't seem like much, you could always spend the $300 savings on a new lens.

Why you should buy the Sony Alpha a7 III
The Sony Alpha a7 III is a camera with so much tech that it might as well be three different cameras. It has excellent dynamic range, low-light performance, and high-speed performance, and the full-frame sensors make the images look absolutely stunning. Interestingly, the a7 III manages to do an excellent job at both low and high ISOs, the latter of which can go as high as 51,200 non-boosted, which, granted, adds a lot of noise, but noise reduction helps with that. As for the video, well, sadly, it's not as impressive, at least in terms of advancements in image quality, and while it can do 8-bit 4K at 30 frames per second, it's no longer ahead of the pack in that regard, like the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is with its 400Mbps 10-bit codec and 60-fps 4K.

Read more