This tiny camera is about the size of grain of salt yet captures full-color images at the quality of a conventional lens 500,000 times larger. Developed by researchers at Princeton University and the University of Washington, the lens isn't made from curved glass or plastic like traditional lenses but rather a flat surface, just a half a millimeter wide, and studded with 1.6 million cylindrical posts. Each cylinder has a unique shape that, when combined en masse, focus the light to produce the image. The lenses can be produced with techniques similar to those used to manufacture microchips. From Phys.org:
Enabled by a joint design of the camera's hardware and computational processing, the system could enable minimally invasive endoscopy with medical robots to diagnose and treat diseases, and improve imaging for other robots with size and weight constraints. Arrays of thousands of such cameras could be used for full-scene sensing, turning surfaces into cameras.