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Science Technology

MIT Develops Camera-Like Fabric 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the who-are-you-wearing dept.
suraj.sun writes "Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a fabric made of a mesh of light-sensitive fibers that collectively act like a rudimentary camera. The fibers, which each can detect two frequencies of light, produced signals that when amplified and processed by a computer reproduced an image of a smiley face near the mesh. 'This is the first time that anybody has demonstrated that a single plane of fibers, or "fabric," can collect images just like a camera but without a lens,' said Yoel Fink, an associate professor of materials science, who along with colleagues described the approach in a the journal Nano Letters. MIT suggested that the technology, if developed further, could give a soldier a uniform that would help him see threats in all directions. Optical fiber webs, by distributing the chore across a large area, would be less susceptible to damage in one area."
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MIT Develops Camera-Like Fabric

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  • by sgant (178166) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @08:00AM (#28634635) Homepage Journal

    Give me a fabric that mimics the skin of a cuttlefish and I'll be impressed!

    BTW, PBS's Nova just had a special on the cuttlefish...amazing creatures.

    • by Tsaot (859424)

      Give me a fabric that mimics the skin of a cuttlefish and I'll be impressed!

      Heck, combine this with a cuttlefish fabric and boom, dynamic camouflage. All it has to see is what it's up against and change the colors of the fabric on the other side.

      • by Sabathius (566108)
        I'd be willing to bet that this is somebody's objective over there...whether they admit it or not. The military has long been involved in leading tech college research. C'mon Predator camouflage!
        • Sexual Predator?

          In the hands of the Pr0n (or, maybe Real Doll) industry, this could... be... very..... skin-tail-lating even titillating... Attach the sklens, point and SHOOT. I wonder how much depth of feel (hehehe) this "digital" camera can "probe". I bet it will have a NICE f-stop, and the fokkel point will have a wide range of vividness in emulsion production. Properly used, this skintaillating camera will have the subject shuttering and shuddering. But, which will have priority: Shudder or Appherchur?

          G

    • Dugong
      Oh. Oh! You may have found my inner sanctum...


      Dr. Mrs. The Monarch
      Shut up! Now give us the key or plans or whatever the hell you have.


      Dugong
      I have a tank full of gentle cuttlefish.


      The Monarch
      Give us the cuttle..fish. Cuttle. I can't do this.


      Dr. Mrs. The Monarch
      Ah, you're so close sweetie. Just pretend he's Dr. Venture.


      The Monarch
      Give me that gun
      (He takes the gun from Kevin and approaches Dugong)
      You've abandoned me. You abandoned my hatred!


      Dugong
      I have cut

  • Voyeur shoe company.
    • Hmmm...I was thinking more in the way of underwear...
    • by Dread_ed (260158)

      I plan to provide free bath towels to Natalie Portman.

    • okay or as a slightly more useful product (well okay, that's an opinion) they could make it sense a more modern set of colors like 16 bit at least and make projection screens out of it. That would make it really easy to project reel to reel movies onto it and record it in realtime at a high resolution. Then tada, you've got a digital version of an old movie. Those giant, dark projection boxes are what they use these day. The picture is always little off though cuz of the keystone-ish effect of having to
  • There is one character in William Gibson's "Neuromancer" [wikipedia.org] who wears a bodysuit that has the ability to display images, forms or pictures that reflect the mood or mind of the wearer.

    This technology may very well be the first step towards that realization.

  • TTIUWOP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

    When an orange goes bad, it actually rots from the outside in. So when you see a moldy orange at the store, it is possible that the insides are still perfectly fine. But you never get to see the insides of that fruit, much less eat it. What you don't know is, though, just how delicious moldy oranges can be. Like grapes, the oranges get the moisture taken out by the mold, so what's left is an enticingly sweet fruit. But since no one makes wine out of moldy oranges, you'll never know.

    But cameras don't rot lik

    • by forkazoo (138186)

      Bad analogy guy has actually pulled off one I like today. It's oddly on topic if you think about it slightly too long.

  • I can see an application the military are probably working on already - instead of reflecting exact copies of specific detail, rather morph the fabric to take the general color of its surroundings, adapting itself as the soldier moves, providing a chameleon suit to ensure stealth movement. Solid Snake's suit comes to mind, here.
    • Re:MGS tech (Score:5, Informative)

      by wjh31 (1372867) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @08:32AM (#28634871) Homepage
      This is a camera not a display. It seems it only reads what is around, it cant display anything to mimic it. To repoduce the image on the suit for camo or whatever you would probably have to interweave the camera fabric with a fabric that can display images, but then youd have to be very careful not to fall into some feedback loop.
      • i think a 2 second latency feedback loop would be rather entertaining - jason and his amazing psychedelic flak jacket
      • This would revolutionize the field of industrial espionage! Many places require you to turn in your cameras/phones/purses & briefcases when going into sensitive areas, but this lets you get a camera past everything but a stripdown!

      • by afxgrin (208686)

        Just imagine witnessing an infantry division in a parade formation wearing this shit - it would probably be the trippiest thing anyone would witness. Even if the fabric would just adapt to the surrounding colours, it doesn't even need to reproduce a perfect image.

    • The invisible car in a Bond movie.
    • I think Predator had that same space suit , no?

    • There is no spoon (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I believe you are referring to this "Cloak [new scientist]" [newscientist.com], an interesting application seems to also be to project a faux object that isnt there.

      Either way there is no need for sampling of the surrounding area, no camera fabric needed.

  • For a soldier to detect a threat the information coming from such a uniform has to be reliable:

    - it should work in different weather (rain,snow) and light conditions (day,night)
    - it should detect threats moving at different speeds (bullet,running person,vehicle) and different distances (helicopter, sniper)
    - it should never produce "false negative" information: it's better to detect an invalid threat rather than miss the real one

    Not a simple task

    OutputLogic [outputlogic.com]
    • by plover (150551) * on Thursday July 09, 2009 @08:31AM (#28634853) Homepage Journal

      It doesn't have to detect a "threat" and perform complex Identify Friend or Foe logic. All it has to do is trigger some signal that your real eye detects as motion. Your retina, brain, and body can process the rest.

      Put another way, if we had evolved with a light sensing organ on the back of our heads that couldn't focus or discern shapes, but could at least give us some sense of motion, we wouldn't complain that it's useless because it's not reliable. It would keep predators from sneaking up on us, and we'd quickly adapt to dealing with the "false positives".

      • by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @08:59AM (#28635107)

        Actually, I wonder if that's true. The only thing that would offer us is notice of an absolutely silent thing moving behind us that is not casting a shadow towards us. If there were already other movement behind us, it wouldn't even provide that.

        It seems to me a very small back-mounted camera would provide a lot more info than a full-body fabric-camera that only shows motion.

        I think the camo-cloth option is a lot more useful. Camo was never meant to truly conceal, it just does an excellent job of breaking up your lines when you're hiding. If someone is looking your way intently, they're going to see you. It's when they're scanning quickly that they'll miss you. This could do exactly the same, but would always match the colors behind you to create the camo pattern.

        • If the cloth can be developed to capture light/dark/color impressions of the space immediately around it and could transmit that info to a camo wrap (camo paint?) it could be used to mask really big objects, like the clapboard house your spouse has been trying to get you to paint for the past five years. "That isn't a grove of trees. That's my unpainted house. Watch for falling paint chips." No end of uses. Nighttime raids to cover garden gnomes. Teenagers who are heard but not seen.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Even an "intent" look can miss people in camo because your brain takes shortcuts. The minute they move, though, your brain's pattern recognition systems go into full effect and compares the ratios of their bones and joints to other creatures you've seen in motion...

      • I could see this being used as kind of a modular motion detection system, as well. A solder (or anyone else for that matter) could drape the material over something and when it picks up motion it the area it could be investigated further by the appropriate party.
      • I see this as an attempt at getting DARPA or SBIR money.

        If you invent something cool and can figure out how it can have a military use, you can continue work on Uncle Sam.

        However, it really sounds far from being practical. How big is the camera on your cell phone? If you needed a camera in the back of your gear, wouldn't you just mount one of those?

  • by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529@yaho o . com> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @08:48AM (#28634995)
    Machine washable or Dry Clean Only?
  • by allrite (322519) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @08:57AM (#28635091)

    A clothing camera was described by science fiction author George Turner [wikipedia.org] in his 1991 novel Brain Child.

  • Wouldn't do not to reference related work such as the Stanford Camera Array - video here showing the multitude of neat tricks that can be done by processing images from multiple apertures into a single image:
    http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/CameraArray/CameraArray.mp4 [stanford.edu]

    The advent of inexpensive digital image sensors has generated great interest in building sensing systems that incorporate large numbers of cameras. At the same time, advances in semiconductor technology have made increasing computing power available for decreasing cost, power, and package size. These trends raise the question - can we use clusters of inexpensive imagers and processors to create virtual cameras that outperform real ones? Can we combine large numbers of conventional images computationally to produce new kinds of images? In an effort to answer these questions, the Stanford Computer Graphics Laboratory has built an array of 100 CMOS-based cameras.

    Multi-camera systems can function in many ways, depending on the arrangement and aiming of the cameras. In particular, if the cameras are packed close together, then the system effectively functions as a single-center-of-projection synthetic camera, which we can configure to provide unprecedented performance along one or more imaging dimensions, such as resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, dynamic range, depth of field, frame rate, or spectral sensitivity. If the cameras are placed farther apart, then the system functions as a multiple-center-of-projection camera, and the data it captures is called a light field. Of particular interest to us are novel methods for estimating 3D scene geometry from the dense imagery captured by the array, and novel ways to construct multi-perspective panoramas from light fields, whether captured by this array or not. Finally, if the cameras are placed at an intermediate spacing, then the system functions as a single camera with a large synthetic aperture, which allows us to see through partially occluding environments like foliage or crowds. If we augment the array of cameras with an array of video projectors, we can implement a discrete approximation of confocal microscopy, in which objects not lying on a selected plane become both blurry and dark, effectively disappearing. These techniques, which we explore in our CVPR and SIGGRAPH papers (listed below), have potential application in scientific imaging, remote sensing, underwater photography, surveillance, and cinematic special effects.

    http://graphics.stanford.edu/projects/array/ [stanford.edu]

    • by godel_56 (1287256)

      Wouldn't do not to reference related work such as the Stanford Camera Array - video here showing the multitude of neat tricks that can be done by processing images from multiple apertures into a single image: http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/CameraArray/CameraArray.mp4 [stanford.edu]

      The advent of inexpensive digital image sensors has generated great interest in building sensing systems that incorporate large numbers of cameras. At the same time, advances in semiconductor technology have made increasing computing power available for decreasing cost, power, and package size. These trends raise the question - can we use clusters of inexpensive imagers and processors to create virtual cameras that outperform real ones? Can we combine large numbers of conventional images computationally to produce new kinds of images? In an effort to answer these questions, the Stanford Computer Graphics Laboratory has built an array of 100 CMOS-based cameras.

      I can see a scenario where the entire walls and ceiling of a room are a distributed camera, and the user could use a joystick controller to move the view point all around the room as required.

  • by wtansill (576643) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @09:10AM (#28635221)
    Many offices, courthouses, etc. ban cameras from the premises. "Excuse me ma'am -- you'll have to take off all your clothes before we'll let you in ... "
    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Heh... my first thought was that it would make a nifty suit for Agent 007 to wear... or for industrial espionage... or general spying...

      Great, now anyone wearing CLOTHES is suspicious!

    • by bar-agent (698856)

      "Excuse me ma'am -- you'll have to take off all your clothes before we'll let you in ... "

      I find your ideas intriguing, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • Now, if they would only support at least 16 colors...
    • by T Murphy (1054674)
      At least 16? I thought there were only 16 colors. 17 if you count "light urple". Everyone knows things like mahogany and lavender are objects, not colors.
      • by daremonai (859175)
        Wait - my box of Crayolas says "64 colors" on it. Were they lying to me?
        I'd take it back for a refund, but I already ate the purple.
  • Integrate imaging of area behind fabric wearer to render back to viewers angle.
  • 1. Use this cloth to take a picture that vaguely looks like the Virgin Mary.
    2. Publicize the cloth.
    3. Charge people to see it.
    4. Profit!!!

  • ...a roll-up flatbed scanner.

  • by Trevin (570491) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @09:41AM (#28635611) Homepage
    In "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" (1968) [memory-alpha.org], Dr. Jones wears a sensor web to compensate for her blindness.
  • i knew wearing my underwear inside out would be cool one day
  • "give a soldier a uniform that would help him see threats in all directions. Optical fiber webs, by distributing the chore across a large area, would be less susceptible to damage in one area"

    Ok... that doesn't seem like a terribly practical idea to me.

    Suppose the "one area" that's damaged is the processing unit, or the interface that relays threat information to the wearer.

    Let's suppose we solve that problem. Maybe we can distribute the processing across the fabric - some sort of nanoprocessor for every s

    • A-HEM... trying to get a little efense-day unding-fay here. Do you mind??

    • Suppose the "one area" that's damaged is the processing unit, or the interface that relays threat information to the wearer.

      Let's suppose we solve that problem.

      Let's suppose the processing unit is near the vital organs of the soldier, and that the interface that relays threat information is near his eyes and ears.

      Then, we might conclude that if the suit is broken, the soldier is broken too, and doesn't really need the information provided by the suit.

  • How do you think they can pull up a camera display from anywhere on the Enterprise? Weave this stuff into the walls.

    Oh, wait...

    /me adjusts tinfoil hat.

  • We've been staring at his balls for hours.
  • hypercolor! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    We had this in the 80s with HyperColor shirts. Drop a stencil on the shirt and leave it in the sun and the design would be duplicated on the shirt. Hey! It's photosensitive!

  • Specifically, Star Trek (TOS):
    http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Sensor_web [memory-alpha.org]

  • Might work as a helmet cover. A whole suit might be a bit much...how do you interpret that much information? LSD?

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