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Intensive care facilities are using them for remote video conferencing to allow a doctor at a remote location to look at his or her patient.
A Department of Defense contractor is using them for robots looking for explosives. The robot has arms with forward- and rear-looking cameras. One arm is used to lift objects and detonate explosives; the other has a shotgun. They need a small-mass, high-resolution camera for steering the robot.
In pipe inspection, the camera is tethered to a tractor and looks inside the pipe for flaws.
Traffic control can use them for red-light violations and license plate OCRs. "A lot of systems with fixed focal lenses get knocked out of focus when the wind buffets them," Birkner says. "They had to take out trucks with ladders and baskets to recalibrate them. That's very expensive, even when they do remotes to keep them focused."
For even smaller applications, such as dental imaging, the chip set is available at just over a half-inch square. A single board has the electronics, including the lens driver, on one side and the USB and mini USB connections on the other. All the decoding is done in the camera, so it comes out Bayer decoded color.