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In covering the tech space today, not a day goes by, it seems, that we are not blown away by a new technology product or service that would have seemed stranger than science fiction even a decade ago. We are clearly living in “The Age of Technology” as insanely innovative ideas that are casually tossed around seem to become actual products before we’re finished reading about them.

We’ve picked a few that we’ve discovered of late – from a contact lens with zoom capability to new metal so resistant to water that any droplets that fall on it simply bounce right off like tiny balls.

New Eye for an Eye

Contact Lens

Image courtesy Eric Tremblay and Joe Ford. Courtesy of EPFL

The number of visually impaired in the world has grown to an estimated 285 million worldwide. It is with that number in mind that scientists at EPFL Polytech, a major technical university in Switzerland, recently unveiled a prototype of a new telescopic contact lens developed to give hope for better, stronger vision. This new contact lens actually gives the eye a 2.8x zoom capability.

In a released statementEric Tremblay, an EPFL researcher and part of the optics team at the university explained, “We think these lenses hold a lot of promise for low vision and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).” 

The lenses essentially have two separate fields of vision – a central unmagnified region, and an outer ring of optics that magnify the image by bouncing light four times within the lens. To switch between the two the user must block off one of the regions – something that can only be achieved, so far, through a modified pair of 3D glasses.

The EPFL Polytech team admits, while they’re excited over the potential this breakthrough represents, there is still work to be done on this project. However, it does appear that at some point we’ll be able to say so long to the days of fixed focal length vision as tech like this is taking optics in some new and exciting directions. Stay tuned for more on this.

— Image courtesy Eric Tremblay and Joe Ford. Courtesy of EPFL.

3D Mini Me

shapify1

A company called the Artec Group recently launched an image output service called Shapify.Pro, a new iteration of its 3D selfie technology. While it’s a nifty product to order for yourself, you may also want to look into it from a photo business perspective. Shapify.Pro is essentially designed for small businesses and retailers who want to provide customers with scale model figurines of themselves, their kids and more created from of their favorite photos.

Like the original Shapify.Me (the 3D selfie kit for individual use), a Shapify.Pro kit uses a Microsoft Kinect sensor array to scan customers in 3D. The scans are then uploaded to the Shapify website, and figurines are delivered to the business or customer within five days. Too cool.

The benefits of Shapify.Pro for small businesses include a $999 printing credit—matching the initial investment of $999 for the Shapify.Pro kit—and special rates designed to allow 3D selfie businesses to become profitable. Shapify.Pro also expands users’ options with two new larger sizes in addition to the 1:20 scale figures: 1:15 and 1:12 models. You might want to check it out as 3D printing continues to explode.

Steady Now

CanonLensLineup

Image stabilization is a technology that appeared in digital cameras over a decade ago and essentially comes in two main varieties: either in-camera or lens stabilization. Well, we are now hearing about a third type of image stabilization technology from Canon, in external form, that you would actually insert into the lens, between the focusing component and rear elements. A kind of “drop-in” image stabilization method, if you will. We are told the device uses a Canon-designed stabilization technology without altering the attached lens’ focal length or aperture range.

No promise that this ever actually becomes a product, but interesting to see a tech like image stabilization as a kind of photo accessory product. Let’s see where this goes.

Heavy Metal Science

Physicists at the University of Rochester have found a way to make metal so resistant to water that any droplets that fall on it simply bounce right off like tiny balls. The team in Rochester used a powerful laser to etch minute micro- and nanoscale patterns onto brass, titanium, and platinum. The process is a lengthy one but this new material never wears away, the way Teflon can.

As you can imagine a new tech like this will make it much easier for camera and smartphone makers to make water resistant products so be on the lookout in the months and years ahead for this innovation to surface on an imaging device near you.

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