Optical sensors from Oregon State University only respond to changes in light intensity and motion to more efficiently process information.


  • Dynamic
  • Increased efficiency
  • Cost‑reducing


  • Solar energy
  • Medical implants
  • Autonomous vehicles

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing

  • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities

The Challenge

Robotic eyes have trouble seeing as well as human eyes because they are unable to process multiple streams of information simultaneously. Robotics eyes usually process data in a sequential order, delaying the overall transmission of data. Additionally, synthetic eyes have smaller fields of vision and lower definition, leading to a lower quality of visual information.

Innovation Details

The optical sensor works similarly to the human eye in that it can process multiple streams of information at once, and it pays closest attention to objects that are moving rather than static. The sensor is made of ultrathin layers of perovskite semiconductors, which change from strong electrical insulators to strong conductors when placed in light. Due to this light sensitivity, the sensor’s network pays special attention to changes in light intensity and responds accordingly. The result is that the sensor focuses its energy on moving objects rather than expending energy on a visual field that is not changing. This allows the sensor to track motion without using complex image processing technology.

Biomimicry Story

Human eyes have a component called the retina. This retina contains two types of photoreceptors, rods and cones. The photoreceptors convert light into signals that stimulate biological processes. However, the optic nerve only has ~1 million connections projecting to the brain. This means that a significant amount of image preprocessing and compression must take place in the retina before the image can be transmitted.