We propose an ultra-thin imaging system which is based on the neural superposition compound eye of insects. Multiple light sensitive pixels in the footprint of each lenslet of this multi-channel configuration enable the parallel imaging of the individual object points. Together with the digital superposition of related signals this multiple sampling enables advanced functionalities for artificial compound eyes. Using this technique, color imaging and a circumvention for the trade-off between resolution and sensitivity of ultra-compact camera devices have been demonstrated in this article. The optical design and layout of such a system is discussed in detail. Experimental results are shown which indicate the attractiveness of microoptical artificial compound eyes for applications in the field of machine vision, surveillance or automotive imaging.
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