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FlatCam - A novel thin lens camera used in wearable health devices

Published on May 26, 2017 by Mantej Singh on Medical Imaging

FlatCam - A novel thin lens camera used in wearable health devices

FlatCam is a camera that is thinner than a dime. By eliminating the need for a bulky lens and replacing it with a sensor chip as well as using image reconstructive algorithms, we are able to design a cost-effective and thin camera that can be used in a wide variety of medical imaging.

My exploration of the engineering aspect of medical technologies led to my involvement in the development of FlatCam – a low-cost thin lensless wearable camera that captures sub-dermal images in applications such as hypodermic imaging and capsule endoscopy in resource-scarce environments. It works by using an algorithm to convert ambient light intensities into visual images, thereby overcoming the need for a thick and costly lens. My semester long research challenge was to enhance the algorithm’s speed and efficiency to refine its ability to rapidly capture moving objects. For this endeavor, I learned different programming languages to determine the optimal solution. Ultimately, I decided on utilizing Julia, over languages like Python and Matlab, given its ability to have type-stable functions, which allow it to compile code in function calls with full amounts of optimization. Armed with this new arsenal, I redesigned the algorithm to leverage Julia’s forte of matrixbased computation to attain a 51% increase in single frame decoding, reflecting an enhanced speed and efficiency.

Additionally, I was the undergraduate chair of the Precise Advanced Technologies and Health Systems for Underserved Populations (PATHS-UP) Engineering Research Committee funded by the NSF. My main responsibility was to integrate this software into a pliable software library that was openly accessible to ensure that it could be widely distributed and implemented where needed. I presented my findings at the annual PATHS-UP meeting. I found the use of computer algorithms in building medical technologies that empowered human health the most fulfilling application of the technical knowledge I possessed. This ignited my curiosity in creating medical devices with significant social impact.

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