A tiny camera to spy on the insect world

Researchers at the University of Washington have managed to create a camera so small that it fits on the back of a beetle. It can be rotated 60 degrees and allows the movement of insects to be followed in first person view.

Who hasn’t wondered how insects see the world? In an article published in the journal  Science Robotics , researchers at the University of Washington provide an answer to this question with a miniaturized camera small enough to be placed on the back of an insect. The device allows to follow the movements of a beetle in first person view.

A tiny camera to spy on the insect world - En24 World

The whole camera weighs just 248 milligrams, and the lens can be rotated 60 degrees with a mechanical arm. The module has been miniaturized by reducing the quality of the camera  which produces monochrome images with a definition of up to 160 x 120 pixels .

The camera can shoot between 1 and 5 frames per second and transmits the data to a smartphone in Bluetooth . The system has an autonomy of six hours thanks to a battery of 10 milliampere-hours. The researchers were able to achieve this length by adding it to an accelerometer  that activates the camera only when the insect is moving.

A camera that works on miniaturized insects and robots

This miniaturized camera was not designed just for insects, but also as a module that can be added to small robots . To test the device, the researchers designed a 2-by-1.6-centimeter robot that uses vibrations to move and has a 90-minute battery life. The vibrations create distortions in the images, causing them to stop the robot in order to get a photo.

In the future, the researchers hope to be able to include a small solar panel in it so that they can do without the battery. Such a camera would make it possible to study the behavior of insects, but also to observe places that are difficult to access. However, it poses the problem of respect for privacy since even beetles can be transformed into surveillance cameras.