It’s a BBC piece on a single-pixel digital camera, which gets around its obvious disability by using an enormous array of mirrors and complex software processing to capture an image through sequential snapshots.
This digital micromirror device, as it is known, consists of a million or more tiny mirrors each the size of a bacterium.
“From that mirror array, we then focus the light through a second lens on to one single photo-detector – a single pixel.”
As the light passes through the device, the millions of tiny mirrors are turned on and off at random in rapid succession.
Complex mathematics then interprets the signals assembling a high resolution image from the thousands of sequential single-pixel snapshots.
The camera is hooked up to a computer to display the captured image which can take minutes to construct.
This is rather clever, and rather cool, if somewhat irrelevant for non-specialist purposes (specialist purposes are imaginable, especially if the radiation being observed is not visible light and therefore involves a more expensive sensor than a standard camera one). However…
Although at the experimental stage at the moment, if the device ever makes it to market it could make digital cameras more efficient and dramatically improve battery life by doing away with the need to process and compress each image.