As the droplets vibrate, their shape is always changing. By passing light through these droplets, the device is transformed into a miniature camera lens. As the droplets move back and forth, the lens automatically changes its focal length, eliminating the usual chore of manually focusing a camera on a specific object. The images are captured electronically, so software can be used to edit out any unfocused frames, leaving the user with a stream of clear, focused video.
The speed and quality of video captured from these liquid lenses has surpassed 30 hertz, which is about the quality of a typical computer web cam. Liquid lenses could mean lighter camera lenses that require only a fraction of the energy demanded by today's digital cameras. Along with handheld and other electronic devices, and homeland security applications, Hirsa said this technology could even hold the key to replacement eye lenses that can be fine-tuned using only high-powered magnets.
"There's really a lot we can do with these liquid pistons. It's an exciting new technology with great potential, and we're looking forward to moving the project even further along," he said.