This could be a very important development in bringing 3D to the masses. Electrical engineer Ali Hajimiri at CalTech and his team have developed a chip that can record height, width, and depth information from each pixel.
Each “pixel” on the new sensor can individually analyze the phase, frequency, and intensity of the reflected waves, producing a single piece of 3D data. According to the researchers, the chip can produce scans that are within microns of the original.
The chip produced by the lab currently only has 16 pixels on it — not enough to capture a scan of any real objects without moving it slightly after taking each “picture.” But researchers say that the product could easily be scaled up to a model with hundreds of thousands of pixels, providing a new, low-cost way for smartphones, driverless cars, and a whole host of other products to capture precise 3D image data.