Columbia University researchers have created a self-powered video camera featuring a sensor that both captures images and powers the device. Although it can only record low-resolution 30x40 pixel images at 1fps, the photodiodes on the camera's sensor can switch between being photoconductive, and photovoltaic. In the latter mode - given enough light - the photodiodes supply enough power to a built-in supercapacitor keep the camera operating indefinitely. 

According to one of the research team, this means that 'for a scene that is around 300 lux in brightness (roughly equivalent to an interior lit by fluorescent lighting), the voltage across the [supercapacitor] remains well above the minimum needed for the camera to indefinitely produce an image per second'.

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Light levels sufficient for such capture rates may not always be available, however, so the researchers have compensated for that by using an adaptive algorithm that alters the camera’s frame rate as needed based on the brightness level and the available power. Furthermore, the researchers believe this camera could lead to a 'fully self-powered solid-state image sensor' that offers a more useful image resolution and frame rate. The potential applications are various, including things like self-powered surveillance cameras and research cameras placed in remote locations for long periods of time.