This shows a concept of future AWARE cameras with higher pixel counts. The system shown here can capture an image with over 5 gigapixels of image data.
Distant Focus is working with Duke University along with a number of other partners to develop multi-gigapixel camera systems based on a multi-scale optical design. Distant Focus is primarily responsible for the electronics platform for the AWARE (formerly MOSAIC) camera.
The AWARE camera is a multi-sensor camera capable of capturing snapshot gigapixel images as well as supplying video at 10 frames per second or greater. Distant Focus developed a highly scalable electronic architecture capable of handling the data flow from these massive cameras. In addition, we assisted with the mechanical design of the micro-cameras as well as performed a majority of the system integration.
The key systems Distant Focus played a role in are:
Distant Focus continues to work with Duke to develop the next generation cameras called the AWARE 10 and AWARE 30. These cameras require continuing refinements in the electronics and mechanical systems to reduce system SWAP and cost.
The Multi-scale Camera Control Module (MCCM) is the heart of the data routing for the AWARE camera. The AWARE 2 MCCM was designed to be part of a testbed environment and has a number of features to allow design explorations. These MCCMs support two 14 megapixel image sensors operating at 10 frames per second and can buffer up to 512 megabytes of image data. The image data can be sent out over USB, Gigabit Ethernet, and high speed SATA connections. In addition, the MCCM features an HDMI port for real time viewing of image data. These units use an Altera FPGA with enough capacity to allow real time image processing and focus control.
Production sensor module flex circuit board fabrication and assembly. These circuit assemblies are awaiting final testing before installation into the final sensor module.
Distant Focus designed and fabricated the sensor module for the AWARE 2 camera. This was both an electronic and mechanical design challenge. Unlike conventional camera systems, this design required that the image sensor (not the optic) move with micron level precision to adjust focus. Additionally the geometry of the AWARE camera allowed very little lateral space between cameras requiring novel mechanical and electronic designs.
The image sensor is mounted on a flexible circuit board that allows for both a compact form factor and motion of the sensor. This circuit board also contains circuitry to power the image sensor, monitor temperature, and route image data to the MCCM at transfer rates of up to 2 Gb/s.
Sensor modules being readied for the final epoxy step. As can be seen in the sensor module model, a precision translation mechanism is included for focus adjustment. The translation mechanism can actuated manually or with a servo.
The system enclosure design allows the AWARE 2 testbed to be populated with up to 226 micro-cameras along with associated MCCMs, Ethernet switches, and required cooling fans.
These figures show the inside of the AWARE 2 camera and how the micro-cameras are assembled into a spherical dome. Every 2 micro-cameras require an MCCM nearby.