A research team at the University of Utah, USA, has demonstrated a prototype of a lensless, see-through camera that uses computational optics to reconstruct images passing through an ordinary window pane. While the proof-of-concept system’s image resolution is on the primitive side, the researchers believe that adding more powerful sensors to the mix could boost quality significantly. And they say that the approach could eventually find use in augmented reality (AR), autonomous vehicles and other “applications where form factor is important.”
The notion of cameras that reconstruct images computationally, without the use of bulk lenses, is not new. Previous demonstrations, however, have often involved complications such as a requirement for coherent illumination, coded apertures in front of the image sensor, or microlens arrays. In such cases, the nominally lensless imaging elements can obscure at least part of the observer’s field of view. And other approaches developed for AR such as wedge optics and luminescent concentrators, while ostensibly transparent, can still limit light transmission through the imaging system in various ways.