Made up of millions of photodetectors, the sensors in today's digital cameras don't come cheap, and they don't go easy on the juice either. At Rice University in Houston, Texas, developers are determined to make a single-pixel camera that will be able to capture high-quality images and turn wasteful million-pixel cameras into a thing of the past. Using a single photodetector would also simplify the process of swapping sensors, hinting at cameras that can switch into ultraviolet or infrared modes with ease.
How do they expect to make all of this possible? It's the mirrors, imagine that! Light is taken in through one lens, bounced off a digital micromirror device (in the picture above, it's the tiny yellow rectangle with the checkerboard, which consists of a million or more tiny mirrors), through a second lens and onto a single photodetector.
Currently still in the experimental stage, the single-pixel camera is about the size of a suitcase. However, time has a way of shrinking new tech, and if all goes well, more efficient cameras with improved battery life will soon be a reality.