"Cameras today capture the world from essentially a single point in space," explained Shree K. Nayar, T.C. Chang Professor of Computer Science at Columbia Engineering.
"While the camera industry has made remarkable progress in shrinking the camera to a tiny device with ever increasing imaging quality, we are exploring a radically different approach to imaging. We believe there are numerous applications for cameras that are large in format but very thin and highly flexible."
The team developed an array of lenses made of silicon which bend with the sheet, thus avoiding gaps between the fields of view of adjacent lenses when the sheet is bent into different forms.
The scientists say that such a system could lead to cameras the size of a credit card that a photographer simply flexes to control its field of view. If the technology could be manufactured cheaply, like a roll of plastic or fabric, it could be wrapped around anything, from a street lamp to a car, or even a person.