A team of computer scientists have developed the world's first camera to be powered by its own pictures.
The group from Columbia Engineering developed a sensor that could not only collect light, but then convert any incidental light into electrical energy.
While the images aren't going to win any awards for clarity or contrast, the camera is capable of taking one image every second and -- more importantly -- is entirely self-powered.
Shree K. Nayar, director of the Computer Vision Laboratory at Columbia Engineering said:
"I think we have just seen the tip of the iceberg. Digital imaging is expected to enable many emerging fields including wearable devices, sensor networks, smart environments, personalized medicine, and the Internet of Things. A camera that can function as an untethered device forever--without any external power supply--would be incredibly useful."
So how does it work? Well the team developed a simple imaging sensor with just 30x40 pixels. Each pixel would then have a dual purpose with the photodiode also acting as a photovoltaic collector.
The sensor first collects the light in order to read the image, then once the picture is taken it immediately switches into energy production mode. This alternate switching continues every time you press the shutter.