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Focusing on the future

Focusing on the future
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These days cameras tend to be omnipresent, especially at important moments in our lives. They capture images our holidays, parties, or just everyday experiences. But their internal mechanics can, with use, become fragile and worn out.

The answer could be liquid lenses, a revolutionary optical device invented in 1995 by French physicist-turned-entrepreneur Bruno Berge in Lyon. They can be adjusted electronically instead of mechanically to find the focal point. And this limits mechanical wear and tear.

For the moment these lenses are only used in the industrial sector, for example for reading bar codes or in security cameras. But in the future it is hoped that could be used in the medical sector, for example in ophthalmology and in the end even in the normal cameras we take on holiday and to parties.

The lens also works as an image stabilizer. On a moving surface, the liquid lens can counterbalance the movement and make the picture stable by using a little gyroscope to guide the movement of the liquid inside the lens. Eventually this could make tripods obsolete.

A liquid lens can also modify the trajectory of a laser beam. Normally it is oriented by mirrors moved by mechanical engines but a liquid lens can do everything electronically, without any movement.

The inventor, Bruno Berge, has been nominated for the European Inventor Award, organized by the European Patent office, which will be held on 28th May in Amsterdam.