New Dental Camera Inspired by Insect Eyes

Engineers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and Korea Photonics Technology Institute have developed a novel insect-inspired dental camera for assorted imaging. Traditional dental imaging is limited in scope with the ability to see teeth at alternate angles for dental health inspection, which uses mirrors and handheld cameras. Compact intraoral dental cameras can overcome those limitations and scan the condition of the teeth, but these too are limited by depth of field and field of view.

To address those limitations and give detailed views within the mouth, the researchers devised a new wide-angle insect eye camera, known as the Biologically-inspired Intraoral Camera (BIOC), that provides functional imaging to meet patients’ needs. The BIOC was designed using a convex-concave lens, inverted microlens arrays (iMLA), and a single CMOS image sensor on a flexible printed circuit board mounted to a telescoping handle. The convex-concave lens increases the field of view to 143 degrees, and iMLAs reduce optical aberration through the scaling law. Moreover, the camera mitigates many chronic problems of conventional intraoral cameras, such as limited depth of field, thick overall track length, and limited functional imaging.

The ultra-thin dental camera offers precise dental imaging without image blur by mimicking the insect vision function of infinite depth of field and provides a high dynamic range, 3D depth and autofluorescence imaging and a multi-channel vision system. The engineers hope the BIOC camera will contribute to technical progress in biomedical engineering and significantly impact diverse vision applications, including surveillance, smartphones, and drones.

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