Researchers at the University of Washington have designed a steerable camera small enough to fit on the back of a bug. According to IEEE Spectrum:
With a focus on small size and efficiency, they started with an off-the-shelf ultra low-power image sensor that’s 2.3 mm wide and weighs 6.7 mg. They stuck on a Bluetooth 5.0 chip (3 mm wide, 6.8 mg), and had a fun time connecting those two things together without any intermediary hardware to broadcast the camera output. A functional wireless camera also requires a lens (20 mg) and an antenna, which is just 5 mm of wire. An accelerometer is useful so that insect motion can be used to trigger the camera, minimizing the redundant frames that you’d get from a robot or an insect taking a nap.
The last bit to make up this system is a mechanically steerable “head,” weighing 35 mg and bringing the total weight of the wireless camera system to 84 mg.
The wireless camera system can stream 160×120 monochrome video frames at 5 frames per second for up to 6 hours. It’s not exactly IMAX quality, but still pretty good for something strapped to a damn bug. They can’t actually control the bug itself, so right now it seems like they’d just be getting low quality footage of whatever it is bugs do all day. Go to work? Get yelled at by their spouse? The usual stuff I guess.
Keep going for a few more shots of the camera as well as a video of it in action.