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Micro-Camera Can Be Injected With A Syringe -- May Pose Surveillance Concerns (phys.org) 60

Taco Cowboy quotes a report from ABC Online: German engineers have created a camera no bigger than a grain of salt that could change the future of health imaging -- and clandestine surveillance. Using 3D printing, researchers from the University of Stuttgart built a three-lens camera, and fit it onto the end of an optical fiber the width of two hairs. Such technology could be used as minimally-intrusive endoscopes for exploring inside the human body, the engineers reported in the journal Nature Photonics. The compound lens of the camera is just 100 micrometers (0.1 millimeters) wide, and 120 micrometers with its casing. It could also be deployed in virtually invisible security monitors, or mini-robots with "autonomous vision." The compound lens can also be printed onto image sensor other than optical fibers, such as those used in digital cameras. The researchers said it only took a few hours to design, manufacture and test the camera, which yielded "high optical performances and tremendous compactness." They believe the 3D printing method -- used to create the camera -- may represent "a paradigm shift."
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Micro-Camera Can Be Injected With A Syringe -- May Pose Surveillance Concerns

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    may represent "a paradigm shift."

    In my head, that reads as GIVE US MORE GRANT MONEY.

  • They're in my eyes too!

  • The ability to hide cameras is nothing new, and making them orders of magnitude smaller doesn't change that much; it was already possible to hide a camera in ways that would be almost impossible to discover accidentally. The reason we don't have cameras hidden everywhere is that you have to provide power and a communication channel, both of which take up considerable amounts of space, and thus make it much easier to detect the cameras. This doesn't change that.

    • You're correct about the power and communications. Consider, however, the agent or pervert next door who uses this to spy on you. Also consider in what devices such a thing may be implanted.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by OzPeter ( 195038 )

        You're correct about the power and communications. Consider, however, the agent or pervert next door who uses this to spy on you.

        And your point is? If the nefarious agent wants to spy on me he can already do that without me knowing about it, especially if he has state backed solutions to do things like install surveillance gear anywhere in and around my house, or even inject code into my laptop and watch the webcam to see what I am doing. And if he really wants to spy on me he has the budget to do so.

        The pervert has less ability to access the internals of my house and or computer, but can still easily put up surveillance gear exter

        • "If the nefarious agent wants to spy on me he can already do that without me knowing about it, especially if he has state backed solutions to do things like install surveillance gear anywhere in and around my house, or even inject code into my laptop and watch the webcam to see what I am doing."

          But now they can print a camera on top of the tape you use to put over the laptop camera.

      • by suutar ( 1860506 )

        in what way does this make it easier for the next door neighbor to spy on you?

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      The reason we don't have cameras hidden everywhere is that you have to provide power and a communication channel

      The same method Theremin used for his passively powered audio bug in the gifted "great seal" in the Berlin Embassy (hadn't anyone there heard of the Trojan Horse?) would work with low powered video cameras today. With fractal antennas as in mobile phones a very long antenna can be very compact.
      Remember the suspicious "rock" that fit the bill and was in the news a few years ago? Google "rock bug

    • The ability to hide cameras is nothing new, and making them orders of magnitude smaller doesn't change that much

      Not true. This is actually one of the breakthroughs required to achieve the goals of the "smart sand" project DARPA had posted about. I can't find the project on their site now (it might have been called something different and I'm remembering it wrong) but the general concept was: create cheap computing and surveillance devices the size of a grain of sand that construct their own mesh network to relay messages and are powered from ambient static in the air. The intent being to be able to blanket a city

  • I have seen such cameras (hair thin fibre optic connected) before; in use by security services of various nations.

    What is most interesting is the construction via 3D printing, making it available to anyone.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe the 3D printing aspect and the resulting reductions in cost and availability barriers puts these cameras into the category of devices that could begin to let citizens keep tabs on their governments and truly hold them accountable. What a nice change that would be: the watched watching the watchers.

    • I have seen such cameras (hair thin fibre optic connected) before; in use by security services of various nations.

      What is most interesting is the construction via 3D printing, making it available to anyone.

      Me, I want to see some images.

      It is also true that a collection of terrible images of the same scene can be assembled into
      improved images.

      The optical fiber can allow data to flow through faraday cages at high rates.

  • Lens on a fiber (Score:5, Informative)

    by friesofdoom ( 3817155 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @06:15PM (#52409355)
    This is just a lens on the end of a piece of fiber optic fiber. In order to be a camera, it needs to be able to record the image it focuses on, since this can not record anything with out being attached to something else, I do not consider it a camera on its own, it is simply a lens on a fiber.
    • by XanC ( 644172 )

      Nope... Remember the old "camcorders"? Those were really cool because you had both devices, the camera and the recorder, in the same box. Previously you'd have the camera and also be lugging around a recorder.

      Point being that a camera does not by definition require an integrated recorder.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by Zaelath ( 2588189 )

        Don't know if trolling or stupid...

        His point is admittedly pedantry, but you don't have one at all.

        I'll wait here while you google define:camera and clarify your trolling status.

        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          So you're saying a pinhole camera isn't a camera? This is just a pinhole camera.

          • A pinhole camera has a sheet of film inside the box, or it's not a camera. Is a magnifying glass a camera on your planet?

            • by Cederic ( 9623 )

              A pinhole camera projects an image onto a plane.
              Whether you put a sheet of film onto that plan or not is totally fucking irrelevant.

              You appear to be using a personalised and custom definition of the word 'Camera'. I hope this works out well for you.

              • Yeah, personalised, by Google:

                https://www.google.com.au/sear... [google.com.au]

                camera1
                kam()r/
                noun
                a device for recording visual images in the form of photographs, film, or video signals.

                If there is no recording there is no camera, dipshit.

                • by Cederic ( 9623 )

                  You call me a dipshit, while ignoring nearly 300 years of cameras being used before photographs existed.

                  I pity you and your self-imposed ignorance.

                  • Those cameras had film in them, if you're ranting on about camera obscura that dates back 2400 years and is where the name camera comes from, but is /not/ a camera.

                    I pity you and your lack of the ability to read outside of Slashdot.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The original (from ABC, not physics.org) did mention security cameras.... ...right above the paragraph that says 3mm focal length.

    sigh...

    That seems little short for even a regular endoscope.

    You're gonna need a LOT of little cameras!

  • by Khopesh ( 112447 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @06:24PM (#52409415) Homepage Journal

    I couldn't see notes about how the thing is powered, but a third major benefit from this sort of thing may be that its battery usage is negligible. That means you can do so much more than an ambient light sensor. Consider a wearable that scans QR codes automatically, so it's already available when you want it (you never miss the opportunity to get it, nor do you have to fumble around with lining it up or getting it in focus). Now consider the same for facial recognition. This clearly has privacy implications even without being ~invisible.

    If it's also cheap enough, you could even knit it into clothing (just encase it so it's water-safe and able to handle temperatures from -40 to 200F). Sensors everywhere, knowing everything you've been in contact with, helping track the spread of diseases ... or just your lost keys.

    Also, a big thank you to the submitter, who actually linked the original academic paper in the main Slashdot story. We need more of that.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @06:30PM (#52409461)

    This is a lens-system at the end of an optical fiber. The actual camera is a the other end of that fiber. The paper-title gets it right: "Two-photon direct laser writing of ultracompact multi-lens objectives". There is nothing "injectable" here and no "surveillance concerns" either. This is a better endoscope, and that is it. As such it is very interesting, no doubt. But the add-on concerns and fear-mongering are complete bullshit.

    • It's a pretty poor endoscope with a focal length that short and where you could inject this thing, it would be dangerous and pointless without being attached to some kind of fiber that could return the images and remove the camera before it got stuck in a lung or something important. Besides, shove a small camera into a vein and what are you going to see anyway? Um, not much more than the opaque blood that will surround it.

      Come to think of it, this development is pretty much worthless beyond being a proof

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Aehm, do you know what an endoscope is?

        • Yes, and although I've not actually had one in my hands, I've seen them in use on others and had them used on me (although I don't remember the later).
    • I'm pretty sure the various three letter agencies would be extremely interested in this for conducting surveillance
      • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

        Please tell us what three-letter-agency needs a camera that:
        * Has a focal length of 3mm
        * Cannot store images on board or wirelessly transmit images
        * Has a 5 foot fiber-optic cord

        This article is simply about a new kind of lens. It's not useful for surveillance. It's useful for looking at tissue very closely.

  • After all, so far all they have been implanted is "microchips", now they get cameras on top of that!

  • This facilitates two way surveillance, and removes some of the state's advantage.

  • Smart dust [wikipedia.org] https://science.slashdot.org/s... [slashdot.org]

    The future is here now!

  • Such a tiny lens is going to run into problems with diffraction. Perhaps 100 um is usable, but the image won't be crisp. There is a reason insects have compound eyes. The devices that get around diffraction-limited imaging are scanning-type devices, like tunneling scanning EM.
  • Camera = surveillance = Evil
    but...
    3D printed = super cool

    Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I'm confused

  • The resolution of the camera wasn't mentioned. 1-pixel x 1-pixel would be reasonable for a single fiber. There aren't too many applications where this would be useful.

    How large would a 720p camera based on this technology be? Probably too large to be injected!

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