Cambits: Reconfigurable Camera

Cambits: Reconfigurable Camera

Posted On: February 25, 2016
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At Columbia University’s engineering department, computer Science Professor Shree Nayar and Makoto Odamaki, a visiting scientist from Ricoh Corporation, have developed Cambits, a modular imaging system that enables the user to create a wide range of computational cameras.

Cambits comprises a set of colorful plastic blocks of five different types—sensors, light sources, actuators, lenses, and optical attachments.

The blocks can easily be assembled to make a variety of cameras with different functionalities such as high dynamic range imaging, panoramic imaging, refocusing, light field imaging, depth imaging using stereo, kaleidoscopic imaging and even microscopy.

“We wanted to redefine what we mean by a camera,” explains profressor Shree Nayar. “Traditional cameras are really like black boxes that take one type of image. We wanted to rethink the instrument, to come up with a hardware and software system that is modular, reconfigurable, and able to capture all kinds of images. We see Cambits as a wonderful way to unleash the creativity in all of us.”

The exterior mold of the blocks were 3D-printed, and keep attached using magnets. when together, they are electrically connected by spring-loaded pins where they power, host data and control signals.

Each Cambit block has an identification tag and when a set are put together, the host computer recognizes the current configuration and provides a visual menu of options for what the user might want to do.

“Using our novel architecture, we were able to configure a wide range of cameras,” adds Makoto Odamaki. “There are so many exciting advances in computational photography these days. We hope this reconfigurable system will open the door to new avenues of creativity, bringing new dimensions to an art form we all enjoy.”

The team hope to partner with a manufacturer to bring their concept to the public.