Think a GoPro on Your Dog Is Cool? How About Video Cameras on Beetles?

Strapping a GoPro onto your pet can result in some pretty amusing video footage. But what if you prefer insects to mammals? There’s no way you could fit a regular action camera onto one of those, unless it’s one of those giant bird-eating spiders you find in South America maybe. Now, thanks to the miracles of modern science and technology, we have a video camera that’s tiny enough to attach to a beetle.

Photo: Mark Stone – University of Washington

Researchers from the University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, working under a fellowship grant from Microsoft have come up with a miniature camera that weighs just 250 milligrams. That makes it light enough to be carried by some sturdier insects, including the death-feigning beetle and a pinacate beetle.

Photo: Mark Stone – University of Washington

The teensy camera unit includes an image sensor, processing circuitry, a Bluetooth transmitter, and a battery. But given the size limitations, its image quality isn’t very good at this point, capturing low resolution greyscale images at a very low frame rate. It streams images at somewhere from 1 to 5 frames per second, with a 160 x 120 resolution, and is capable of being remotely steered so a wider field of view can be observed.

The research team also developed a tiny, 2cm long robot that can also carry a steerable camera, which has the potential to reduce robot power consumption needs, since it doesn’t need to move the whole robot to survey a scene. I can only imagine the potential for building tiny camera robots that look like insects to carry out espionage.

If you’re interested in learning more about the beetle-cam, the full research paper is available from Science Robotics.

[via Gizmodo]

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