The synchronized left-right-left-right neck swivel that's the hallmark of tennis spectation can be tough on the cameraman, too. Even in professional hands, capturing the perfect sequence is difficult when done manually. But a new project is aiming to autonomize a camera to perfectly capture close-up, dead-center video of fast-moving objects. And, at least when chasing a ping-pong ball, it looks good.
Rather than moving an entire camera, the system from researchers at the Ishikawa Oku Laboratory at the University of Tokyo sets up two mirrors in a camera's line of vision. The mirrors automatically tilt to keep a ball or other object in sight, and the camera records it all at 1,000 frames per second. That's enough to see a ping-pong ball rotating as it flies, like a twee version of The Matrix's bullet-time.
In addition to making referees better informed, researchers are hoping the tech could be used to record more detailed video of birds, aircraft, cars, and more.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.