Defense Department Gives SMU Millions More to Finish Developing Military's Tiny Camera

SMU's creating a camera that'll allow soldiers to shoot, as it were, inside "dark places, like caves and urban areas."
SMU's creating a camera that'll allow soldiers to shoot, as it were, inside "dark places, like caves and urban areas."
Southern Methodist University

Back in June, Wired directed our attention to SMU's efforts to create a powerful paper-thin camera that uses low-resolution sensors to create a hi-res image -- otherwise known as "Panoptes," which stands for "Processing Arrays of Nyquist-limited Observations to Produce a Thin Electro-optic Sensor." The camera's being developed on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense, which must really want to get this sucker done: SMU has announced that the DOD has sent $2 million more the Hilltop in order to fund the so-called "high tech eyes," also the name of a lesser-known Kim Carnes hit from the 1980s.

The latest injection of cash puts the grand total at around $5.5 mil, which "will allow us to explore [the camera's] use for non-cooperative iris recognition systems for homeland security and other defense applications," says electrical engineering professor Marc Christensen, who's heading up the project. And how'd the school secure the DOD dough? "SMU was able to negotiate the additional funding, which President Obama recently approved as part of the Defense Appropriation Bill, with the help of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison."


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