MIT Develops Camera That Can Take Photos In The Dark

IRCamPictures are worth a thousand words, or so they say. They can capture emotions, memories, and that is just the tip of the ice berg. We use pictures every day to help us identify people, help us understand directions, and to get a quick laugh. Within this past year alone we’ve seen some pretty crazy things in terms of cameras. We’ve seen cameras that can take pictures in full 360 panorama view, phones that have cameras that can take pictures with 42 megapixel resolution, and many more. We have definitely seen some game changing things, but MIT may being ending the game this year with something no one would be able to see coming, no pun intended.

Researchers from MIT have now developed the potential next level in surveillance imagery and just picture taking in general; a camera that can take pictures in the dark. How the camera works to make these images in next to total darkness may even be more crazy than the actual function of the camera

The camera works with photons, as most cameras do. The photons are what help justify the amount of light in the photo so that an image may be properly represented. Normal pictures can take anywhere from tens, hundreds, and even trillions of photons per pixel in order to properly represent a picture in full HD resolution, all depending on the lighting level during the time the picture was taken. MIT has developed their camera to only need one photon per pixel.

It could even possibly be disputed that the camera is not a camera at all, and more of a 3D imager. The camera takes the photo by sending out repeated pulses of light from a laser , and then calculates the arrival time of each photon that bounces off of the scene or object that is being photographed. The built in photon detector then records the distance of each reflected photons, is run through a complex algorithm. The software takes the results of the algorithm to produce the 3D image. It is almost like sonar in the way that bats use sound waves to judge distance to their prey in the dark, all by using sound waves and determining how much time it took for the sound wave to bounce back. Only the bat is a… camera, and the sound waves are… light photons. More or less the same principle.

The “First-Photon Imager” camera is not likely to see its debut to the mass market. From the way the camera functions, it is more than likely to see its work load taken care of in the military or for scientific research on specimens that could be destroyed or damaged in bright light. Should this type of product be released to the public for consumer purposes, the results could be revolutionary. The ability to use this type of technology in standard security cameras would render virtually any criminal act identifiable as long as the suspect or act were in view and focus of the camera. Criminals would be much easier to identify should the camera capture their image. The overall shape of the criminal and his or her facial features would become more apparent and very recognizable.

It’s quite safe to say that should this type of “photon-imaging” technology become integrated in security cameras and security systems, it would see an increase in crimes solved. But, as it stands now, there is no such camera that offers this capability on the market so we have to stick with IR based cameras, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Should you be in need of such cameras, be sure to check out our stock at and get an instant quote!

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