Research Team Makes Lensless Camera Using Pane of Glass


Advances in the field of optics happen every day, but it isn’t too often that one catches our eye quite like this.

And it might make you look at a regular sheet of glass in a whole new “light.”

Image via Just Another Photography Dude from

A research team comprised of electrical and computer engineers at the University of Utah developed a lensless camera that uses a pane of glass in order to craft a device “that creates photos optimized for machines to look at, rather than humans” according to a report from PetaPixel.

The team’s findings, published in an article for the publication Optics Express, detail how the digital camera sensor captures a mess of colors that the team then trains an artificial intelligence to interpret, in effect conditioning it to piece back together the image it captured without focused light. That’s pretty incredible and a novel application of AI tech in optics. We’ve seen AI being trained to make better photos, change the composition of existing photos, and even spin photos out of whole cloth but we haven’t reported about tech that can recreate photos taken sans lens.

Using LED generated objects to test the AI the team showed how the recreated photo resembled the depicted object in a rough, approximate fashion. Even though the recreated output was somewhat low resolution the results are undeniably the object in question. As PetaPixel speculates, the ability of the AI to make more detailed recreations may go up concurrently with the power of digital sensors.

In discussing what the future tech could be used for in the field, the University of Utah wrote in a blog post, “Applications for a lensless camera can be almost unlimited,” the University of Utah writes….Security cameras could be built into a home during construction by using the windows as lenses.”

You can view the team’s discussion of their research here on YouTube.

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Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

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