research lab begins testing modular imaging system that rearranges into different cameras research lab begins testing modular imaging system that rearranges into different cameras
feb 19, 2016

research lab begins testing modular imaging system that rearranges into different cameras

research lab begins testing modular imaging system that rearranges into different cameras
all images courtesy of columbia engineering





at columbia university’s engineering department, computer science professor shree nayar, makoto odamaki from ricoh, have developed ‘cambits’ – a modular imaging system that lets users create a wide range of cameras. the platform is compromised of a set of colorful plastic blocks – sensors, light sources, actuators, lenses and optical attachments. these building blocks can be easily put together to build cameras that can create panoramic, kaleidoscopic and even microscopic images. 


video courtesy of columbia engineering



‘we wanted to redefine what we mean by a camera,’ explains profressor shree nayar. ‘traditional cameras are really like black boxes that take one type of image. we wanted to rethink the instrument, to come up with a hardware and software system that is modular, reconfigurable, and able to capture all kinds of images. we see cambits as a wonderful way to unleash the creativity in all of us.’

columbia-engineering-cambits-designboom-02multiple ‘cambit’ configurations 




the exterior mold of the blocks were 3D-printed, and keep attached using magnets. when together, they are electrically connected by spring-loaded pins where they power, host data and control signals. each ‘cambit’ block has an identification tag and when a set are put together, the host computer recognizes the current configuration and provides a visual menu of options for what the user might want to do. 

columbia-engineering-cambits-designboom-03the different blocks combined at variances in lens formats and lighting




‘using our novel architecture, we were able to configure a wide range of cameras,’ adds makoto odamaki. ‘there are so many exciting advances in computational photography these days. we hope this reconfigurable system will open the door to new avenues of creativity, bringing new dimensions to an art form we all enjoy.’ the team hope to partner with a manufacturer to bring their concept to the public. 

columbia-engineering-cambits-designboom-04the kaleidoscopic setupcolumbia-engineering-cambits-designboom-05two attached lenses offer depth perception optionscolumbia-engineering-cambits-designboom-06the whole platform has 19 different blocks

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

    technology news