Friday, 20 June 2014

Amazing Design: The Human Eye Inspires Better Cameras

Engineers are mimicking the amazing design of the human eye. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).

Joel Kontinen

Richard Dawkins is fond of using the bad design argument for the human eye. He has said that no engineer would come up with such a lousy design with the inverted retina.

Eye specialists disagree with Dawkins. They know what they are saying. Now, engineers at Sony are using the human eye as a model for constructing better cameras.

According to an article in IEEE Spectrum, Sony engineers “have created a set of curved CMOS image sensors using a ‘bending machine’ of their own construction. The result is a simpler lens system and higher sensitivity, Kazuichiro Itonaga, a device manager at Sony’s R &D Platform ...reported.”

“A curved CMOS sensor has a few advantages over a planar sensor, Itonaga said. Because of the geometry, it can be paired with a flatter lens and a larger aperture, which lets in more light. Photodiodes at the periphery of a sensor array will be bent toward the center, which means light rays will hit them straight on instead of obliquely

Sony engineers believe that curved systems are 1.4 times more sensitive at the centre of the sensor and twice as sensitive at the edge.
Obviously, they do not think that the human eye is designed poorly.

This is yet another instance of biomimicry or copying a wonderful solution we see in nature.

Instead of the haphazard products of blind Darwinian processes, engineers see intelligently designed systems in nature.


Courtland, Rachel. 2014. Sony Creates Curved CMOS Sensors That Mimic the Eye. IEEE Spectrum (12 June).