The city of Venice, as seen by the neural nano-optical camera (right) compared to an earlier, similar camera (left).Image: Princeton University Computational Imaging Lab

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A team of engineers has built a camera about the size of a salt grain that’s capable of taking images of similar quality to an ordinary camera 500,000 times its size. The super-small camera takes advantage of a combination of flat optic technology and artificial intelligence to produce its images.

While the camera isn’t great for any point-and-shoot escapades, the tiny tech could be useful in fields like in medical imaging. There are also applications in other areas, as evidenced by some of the project’s funders: Amazon, Facebook, Google, and the U.S. Department of Defense

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The new camera produces significantly better images than cameras of the same kind just a few years ago. The team that developed this “metasurface camera” has published their findings this week in Nature Communications.

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