Cambits: A Reconfigurable Camera System

Cambits is a set of physical blocks that can be used to build a wide variety of cameras with different functionalities. The blocks include sensors, actuators, lenses, optical attachments and light sources. Cambits has been designed to have the following attributes:

  • Ease of Assembly: The blocks are attached using magnets, without any screws or cables. The configuration of blocks can be changed without requiring a reboot of the hardware or the software.
  • Self-identification: The host computer can detect the current configuration of the system. This information is conveyed to the user via a 3D visualization and a menu of functionalities that it can perform.
  • Diverse functionality: Since there are many different types of blocks and many of them can be controlled, a diverse set of camera systems can be configured where each one produces a different type of image.
  • Scalability: Due to the architecture of the hardware and the software of the system, it is inherently scalable. New blocks and computational photography algorithms can be easily added to the existing set.

We have used Cambits to demonstrate a wide range of computational photography methods including HDR, wide angle, panoramic, collage, kaleidoscopic, post-focus, light field and stereo imaging. It can also be used to configure a microscope.

This research was done at the Computer Vision Laboratory at Columbia University. Makoto Odamaki was a Visiting Scientist from Ricoh Corporation, Japan. The authors thank William Miller for designing and 3D printing the exteriors of the Cambits blocks, Wentao Jiang for his contribution to the user interface, Daniel Sims for editing the demonstration video and Anne Fleming for sourcing and purchasing various components. Divyansh Agarwal, Ethan Benjamin, Jihan Li, Shengyi Lin and Avinash Nair implemented several of the computational photography algorithms.


"Cambits: A Reconfigurable Camera System,"
M. Odamaki and S. K. Nayar,
Technical Report, Department of Computer Science, Columbia University, New York,
Feb. 2016.
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  Cambits Video:

This video describes the Cambits prototype and how it can be used to construct various types of cameras.

YouTube Video


Computational Imaging