Curved devices are hot right now, from TVs to wearables. But a curved image sensor is more than just a fashion gimmick. It actually could drastically improve the way cameras gather light from a lens, improving image quality whether on an iPhone or DSLR.
At this week's Symposium on VLSI Technology in Hawaii, Sony revealed the first picture of tech they have been working on for years. The technical details are slim, but Sony says that their CMOS sensor has the same curvature as a human eye.
The curve allows light rays coming through a camera's lens to strike the sensor straight on, as opposed to at an angle, which causes distortion in the image. If you've ever noticed that your pictures are a bit blurry toward the edges, it's because of the angle that light hits the sensor. A curved surface would eliminate that problem. It would also allow for larger lens apertures, which let in more light.
The technology is still young, and Sony has only managed to make about 100 of the sensors, but some are already speculating that it could make its way into consumer products soon. There are two versions of the curved sensor, one of which is 43mm, possibly suiting a follow-up to the RX1 compact camera, and one which is 11mm, suited more for mobile devices.
Camera sensors have seen only incremental improvements over the past few years, and an advance like this could lead to a new generation of higher quality lenses and cameras.