Proposed Project: Geometrical Analysis of a Ball Camera

The concept to be analysed is a proposed camera that would operate somewhat like the human eye. Rather than capturing an image on a rectangular flat surface, as is common in current cameras, the image would be captured on the inside surface of a sphere or spheroid.

The idea emerged when Jim McGovern’s daughter Aoife was seeking a project idea for the Young Scientist Competition some years ago. It evolved in a natural way from her consideration of a simple pin-hole camera and her discussions with her father. Aoife’s initial entry proposal for the Young Scientist Competition was not accepted, but Jim McGovern put the idea forward for a DIT innovation competition and received a prize as a runner-up. Aoife successfully put forward the idea again the next year for the Young Scientist Competition and the project she conducted received an award in the intermediate category.

The project has not been pursued by Aoife, but from her project there is some good experimental evidence that the concept is viable. Separately, theoretical analysis has been carried out by Jim McGovern, using MathCad software. This analysis has given rise to some issues in relation to the geometry of the formation of the image. Unless there was an error in the analysis, it appears that a simple lens of constant refractive index requires a capture surface that is ovoidal, rather than spherical. It is expected that this issue can be resolved, but it serves to illustrate the need for a deeper analysis.

An MPhil project is proposed that will focus on the geometrical aspects of the camera. The nature of the capture device to be used will not form part of the project. It is proposed to use a number of tools for the analysis. Calculations will be performed in MathCad or Mathematica, or perhaps both. It is also proposed to use POVRay, the open software ray tracing program. By these means it is expected that virtual demonstrations of the concept can be conducted, without the need for any physical experimentation.

There is good potential for conference and journal papers in this project and there is also a possibility that a patentable idea could arise.

This entry was written on 22 January 2008 at 8:37 a.m. as a private blog