OmniVision OV6948 a specialist medical camera that measures just 0.65 x 0.65 x 1.158mm has just entered the Guinness Book of Records. The size of the grain of sand, it is the camera’s tiny sensor that is actually being entered into the world-famous record book, for being the smallest commercially available image sensor.
The OmniVision OV6948 is just 0.575 x 0.575 x 0.232mm and produces a 40,000-pixel color image using an RGB Bayer back-side-illuminated chip. Each photosite measures just 1.75 µm across.
The resolution may seem low, but the OVM6948-RALA camera is designed to fit down the smallest of veins in the human body giving surgeons views that will aid diagnosis and with surgical procedures. Previously the surgeon would carry out these operations without the use of a camera, or use a much lower-resolution fibre optic feed.
Nano cameras are nothing new, but the one in the news today is smaller than anything we have seen. Researchers at the University of Washington have managed to create a camera so small that it’s the size of a salt grain.
This new nano camera is built on a metasurface made out of 1.6 million cylindrical posts that work just like a camera sensor. Each of these posts acts as an optical antenna that receives light and shapes the optical wavefront. It is then enhanced by AI to create a high-quality image with full colors.
Traditional cameras use plastic and glass lenses to redirect light into the sensor, but this new solution doesn’t need any of that. In simple words, the metasurface of the camera is a thin film with individual miniature elements that are able to refract light into any direction.
This metasurface combined with the millions of cylindrical posts and a proper signal processing algorithm allowed the researchers to produce an actual image. Without a proper algorithm, the sensor would only produce blurry and distorted images with a small field of view.
The best part is that this nano camera is based on silicon nitride, meaning that it can be mass-produced at a lower cost than conventional cameras. The main application for this camera will be the medical field but it could expand to several other industries in the future.
Manufactured by California-based OmniVision Technologies Inc, the sensor captures its imagery at 30fps, and its analog output can be transmitted over distances of up to 4m with minimal noise.
The camera unit offers a 120° super-wide angle of view – so something like a 14mm on a full-frame camera. It gives a depth of field range from 3mm to 30mm.
OmniVision OV6948 Worlds smallest camera specifications
- Resolution 40K pixels (200×200 pixels)
- Camera size 0.65 x 0.65 x 1.158mm
- Sensor type Backside illuminated Bayer RGB
- Diagonal field of view 120°
- Focal length 0.175mm
- Weight 0.87g
- Aperture f/2.8
- Frame rate 30fps
- Shutter type Rolling shutter
- Operating temperature -20°C – +70°C
- Power requirement 25mW