Eye See You: SMU and Department of Defense Find a New Use for Their Paper-Thin Camera

In July of last year, and again last January, we mentioned SMU's partnering with the U.S. Department of  Defense to develop a powerful paper-thin camera that uses low-resolution sensors to create a hi-res image -- a device otherwise known as "Panoptes," short for "Processing Arrays of Nyquist-limited Observations to Produce a Thin Electro-optic Sensor. So far the government's infused the Hilltop with $5.5 million to cook up the camera, intended initially to allow, say, unmanned drones or soldiers outfitted with special helmets to peek in and around dark, dangerous places where baddies might be hiding -- very Batman or Big Brother, depends upon your point of view.

But in the comments below, a Friend of Unfair Park directs our attention to the latest development in the camera's evolution: Wired, which initially broke the story last year, writes that SMU researchers, among them professors Marc Christensen and Delores Etter, are turning the tech into something else entirely: the Smart-Iris. Which is? Writes Danger Room's Katie Drummond:

It'll eliminate problems like glare, eyelashes, dim lighting -- and an unwillingness to stop and stare directly into a dedicated iris-detection camera. Instead, Panoptes devices will zero in on a face, no matter angle or movement, then narrow right into the iris. A long line of people, moving through a line, could be scanned by wall-mounted cameras and they wouldn't even notice it was happening. ...

"Ideally, when you walk down a hallway, no matter where your head is looking, the device can grab your eyeball and detect what it needs to," Christensen said. And where possible security and defense applications are concerned? "You can let your imagination fly with that one."
Which reminds me: I really need to go back and watch Minority Report.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky