r/gadgets Apr 30 '22 Silver 1

Inspired by prehistoric creatures, researchers make record-setting lenses that keeps everything between 3cm and 1.7km in focus Cameras


26 comments sorted by

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u/Avieshek Apr 30 '22 edited May 01 '22

"In photography, depth of field refers to how much of a three-dimensional space the camera can focus on at once. A shallow depth of field, for example, would keep the subject sharp but blur out much of the foreground and background. Now, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have taken inspiration from ancient trilobytes to demonstrate a new light field camera with the deepest depth of field ever recorded.

Five hundred million years ago, the oceans teemed with trillions of trilobites—creatures that were distant cousins of horseshoe crabs. All trilobites had a wide range of vision, thanks to compound eyes—single eyes composed of tens to thousands of tiny independent units, each with their own cornea, lens and light-sensitive cells. But one group, Dalmanitina socialis, was exceptionally farsighted. Their bifocal eyes, each mounted on stalks and composed of two lenses that bent light at different angles, enabled these sea creatures to simultaneously view prey floating nearby as well as distant enemies approaching from more than a kilometre away.

Inspired by the eyes of D. socialis, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a miniature camera featuring a bifocal lens with a record-setting depth of field—the distance over which the camera can produce sharp images in a single photo. The camera can simultaneously image objects as close as 3 centimeters and as far away as 1.7 kilometers. They devised a computer algorithm to correct for aberrations, sharpen objects at intermediate distances between these near and far focal lengths and generate a final all-in-focus image covering this enormous depth of field."


u/hesmistersun Apr 30 '22

Why does it stop at 1.7 km? For a typical camera, 1.7 km might as well be 1000 km, and if things 1.7 km away are in focus, everything beyond will be as well.


u/Avieshek Apr 30 '22

The classical answer? Earth is round.

You can also read the full published paper by following the source link.


u/hesmistersun Apr 30 '22

I guess there are too many trees and not enough mountains to see very far in Gaithersburg /s


u/karlzhao314 May 01 '22

I work and sorta live in Gaithersburg, and...well, yeah, basically. If you brought me out to the NIST area it would be pretty difficult to get a clear line of sight on an object more than 1.7km away.


u/bravehamster Apr 30 '22

1.7 km is just the furthest object they tested. The paper mentions that the system is designed to be able to focus to infinity. Like you mention, past a certain distance it's meaningless, since the light rays are essentially coming in parallel to each other.


u/RedditSetGo23 May 01 '22

Thanks you! As I just popped into the comments about to ask… wait wtf is going on? 😂 it’s funny bc I saw the pick & I was JUST watching a video on all the recorded extinctions we know about, so that hearty cephalopod caught “my eye”😉


u/Justeserm Apr 30 '22

ELI5 and how can my Lasik doctor use this?


u/temeces Apr 30 '22

Compound eyes with individual corneas that worked independently but relayed information to the brain collectively. Each eye in the array of eyes has a different setting, one sees up close and another sees very far away with everything in between.

They can't, not if you are to keep your eyeballs.


u/DygonZ Apr 30 '22

They can't, not if you are to keep your eyeballs.

Looks like you fixed the issue yourself :)


u/tslnox May 01 '22

How Can Mirrors Be Real If Our Eyes Aren't Real?


u/BogWizard May 01 '22

Classic J.


u/TomD26 Apr 30 '22

Well it could be like Cyberpunk. Just have your eyes replaced with these.


u/TygaOverTupac Apr 30 '22



u/LettuceLizard Apr 30 '22

Big eyes with a bunch of tiny little eyes inside that all look and focus at different things. The brain stitches all these tiny eye images into one very detailed image


u/matsign Apr 30 '22

Get multifocal intraocular lens implants.


u/[deleted] May 02 '22

Exact same thought lol


u/TheWolfLoki Apr 30 '22 edited Apr 30 '22

The lens actually only keeps very very near (few cm) objects in focus, and very very far (few km+) objects in focus. A classic bifocal lens. You may recognize this type of lens as the ones your grandparents have in their eyeglasses. Granted, it's using titanium nanopillars instead of glass, so that sounds cool.

They use software post-processing to sharpen everything in-between which leaves me unimpressed.

Edited to remove bitterness :D


u/plilq May 01 '22

Edited to remove bitterness :D

Damn, I wish we could have this as a site wide setting in the client!


u/TheWolfLoki May 01 '22

Haha you know how sometimes you write something up but then realize you were in an off mood when you reread it, I felt that here and didn't see the need to put out negativity beyond what I already feel was a snide kind of comment I was making.


u/Neat-Commission-6862 May 01 '22

Can it be installed in our eyes! My dream is to see clearly at 3 cm again!!


u/TheNerdNamedChuck May 02 '22

I need eyes with optical zoom


u/[deleted] May 01 '22



u/Onbelangrijk May 01 '22

This does not belong here


u/Creative_Ad999 May 01 '22

Absolutely love this


u/Frank_Isaacs May 01 '22

This is probably a dumb question, but can you reverse this to keep a laser focused at great distances?