Inspired By A Fiddler Crab Eye, Researchers Created The First Artificial Vision System That Can See Both On Land And Underwater

Different vision systems with unique imaging properties have developed in nature in various natural settings. These have served as inspiration for the creation of numerous artificial vision systems, such as human-eye type (terrestrial environment), insect-eye type (terrestrial environment), and fish-eye type (aquatic environment).

These vision systems have influenced artificial vision. However, earlier attempts to mimic the graded RI have concentrated on aberration correction and antireflection. Additionally, the highest field of view (FoV) of the bioinspired electronic eyes currently on the market is hemispherical (about 180°), not omnidirectional (about 360°).

The intertidal fiddler crab, which inhabits both a terrestrial and aquatic environment, has evolved complex eyes with flat-face lenses that provide panoramic vision and amphibious imaging capabilities. The compound eyes’ structure, which occupies nearly the whole eye stalk and has a flat nature and graded refractive index (RI) of the corneal facet lens, suppresses the defocusing effect brought on by changes in the external environment (FoV).

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The functional and anatomical structure of the fiddler crab eye was imitated by researchers from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT and other research partners to create an amphibious artificial vision system with a panoramic field of view (FoV).

The artificial eye, which resembles a round, small, mostly unremarkable, black ball, interprets its inputs using a combination of components that process and comprehend the light. The researchers paired a flexible photodiode array with comb-shaped patterns wrapped over the 3-D spherical structure with an array of flat microlenses with a graded refractive index profile. Regardless of the refractive index of its surroundings, this arrangement ensured that light rays from various sources would always converge at the same location on the picture sensor.

In studies conducted in the air and on the water, the amphibious and panoramic imaging capabilities were examined by taking pictures of five objects from various angles and distances. Both on land and in water, the system offered consistent image quality and a nearly 360° range of vision.

The team states that their systems can help create novel applications such as augmented and virtual reality, panoramic motion detection, and obstacle avoidance in constantly changing surroundings. The size of semiconductor optical units, frequently found in smartphones, vehicles, and monitoring/surveillance cameras, is now constrained at the laboratory level.

The researchers believe the technological barrier can be overcome to create a far smaller camera that performs better than those currently produced using image sensor manufacturers like Samsung and SK Hynix technologies. 

During the testing, five cartoonish objects—a dolphin, an airplane, a submarine, a fish, and a ship—were projected onto the artificial vision system from various angles and distances. The team conducted the multilaser spot imagining experiments, and the fabricated images agreed with the simulation. 

The researchers believe that this optical engineering and non-planar imaging device combines elements of bio-inspired design with cutting-edge flexible electronics to provide special capabilities not possible with traditional cameras. They hope that further research will be conducted to examine the light adaption systems with biological inspiration and further engineering to produce higher resolution and superior image processing.

This Article is written as a research summary article by Marktechpost Staff based on the research paper 'An amphibious artificial vision system with a panoramic visual field'. All Credit For This Research Goes To Researchers on This Project. Check out the paper and reference article.

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Tanushree Shenwai is a consulting intern at MarktechPost. She is currently pursuing her B.Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology(IIT), Bhubaneswar. She is a Data Science enthusiast and has a keen interest in the scope of application of artificial intelligence in various fields. She is passionate about exploring the new advancements in technologies and their real-life application.