built in camera

7 Things You Didn’t Know Came from NASA Technology

Every  year, we publish a round-up of 50 or so NASA innovations that can also be found  in our daily  lives here on Earth.

We call them spinoffs — technologies spun off from America’s space program — and this week the 2017 edition was published.  Here are some of our favorite things we bet you didn’t know use space technology.

1.Crash Test Cameras 

Parachutes are a key part of the landing system for many of our spacecraft, but before we send them into orbit — or beyond — we have to make sure that they’re going to work as designed. One important component of testing is a video that captures every millisecond as the chute opens, to see if it’s working and if not, what went wrong. 

Integrated Design Tools built a camera for us that could do just that: rugged and compact, it can film up to 1,000 frames per second and back up all that data almost as fast.  Now that same technology is being used to record crash tests, helping ensure that we’re all safer on the roads.


We often use laser-imaging technology, or lidar, on missions in outer space. Thanks to lidar, snow was discovered on Mars, and the technology will soon help us collect a sample from an asteroid to bring home to Earth. 

To do all that, we’ve helped make smaller, more rugged, and more powerful lidar devices, which have proven useful here on Earth in a lot of ways, including for archaeologists. Lidar scans can strip away the trees and bushes to show the bare earth—offering clues to help find bones, fossils, and human artifacts hidden beneath the surface. 

3.Golf Clubs 

A screw is a screw, right? Or is it?  

When we were building the Space Shuttle, we needed a screw that wouldn’t loosen during the intense vibrations of launch. An advanced screw threading called Spiralock, invented by the Holmes Tool Company and extensively tested at Goddard Space Flight Center, was the answer.  

Now it’s being used in golf clubs, too. Cobra Puma Golf built a new driver with a spaceport door (designed to model the International Space Station observatory) that allows the final weight to be precisely calibrated by inserting a tungsten weight before the door is screwed on.  

And to ensure that spaceport door doesn’t pop off, Cobra Puma Golf turned to the high-tech threading that had served the Space Shuttle so well. 

4.Brain Surgery 

Neurosurgery tools need to be as precise as possible.

One important tool, bipolar forceps, uses electricity to cut and cauterize tissue. But electricity produces waste heat, and to avoid singeing healthy brain tissue, Thermacore Inc. used a technology we’ve been relying on since the early days of spaceflight: heat pipes.  The company, which built its expertise in part through work it has done for us over more than 30 years, created a mini heat pipe for bipolar forceps.  

The result means surgery is done more quickly, precisely — and most importantly, more safely.

5.Earthquake Protection 

The Ares 1 rocket, originally designed to launch crewed missions to the moon and ultimately Mars, had a dangerous vibration problem, and the usual solutions were way too bulky to work on a launch vehicle.  

Our engineers came up with a brand new technology that used the liquid fuel already in the rocket to get rid of the vibrations. And, it turns out, it works just as well with any liquid—and not just on rockets.  

An adapted version is already installed on a building in Brooklyn and could soon be keeping skyscrapers and bridges from being destroyed during earthquakes. 


When excess fertilizer washes away into ground water it’s called nutrient runoff, and it’s a big problem for the environment. It’s also a problem for farmers, who are paying for fertilizer the plant never uses. 

Ed Rosenthal, founder of a fertilizer company called Florikan, had an idea to fix both problems at once: coating the fertilizer in special polymers to control how quickly the nutrient dissolves in water, so the plant gets just the right amount at just the right time.  

Our researchers helped him perfect the formula, and the award-winning fertilizer is now used around the world — and in space. 

7. Cell Phone Cameras  

The sensor that records your selfies was originally designed for something very different: space photography.  

Eric Fossum, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, invented it in the 1990s, using technology called complementary metal-oxide semiconductors, or CMOS. The technology had been used for decades in computers, but Fossum was the first person to successfully adapt it for taking pictures. 

As a bonus, he was able to integrate all the other electronics a camera needs onto the same computer chip, resulting in an ultra-compact, energy-efficient, and very reliable imager. Perfect for sending to Mars or, you know, snapping a pic of your meal. 

To learn about NASA spinoffs, visit: https://spinoff.nasa.gov/index.html                                        

The Daqri Qube™ provides ground-breaking 360 degree coverage with four built-in optical cameras, two infra-red sensors, two motion-tracking rangefinders, echolocation, and a short-burst X-ray emitter capable of penetrating a seven-inch lead blast shield.

The Daqri Qube™ is ruggedized to withstand the modern business environment, with ISO-3103 compliant impact resistance, waterproofing tested up to thirty meters, an ablative carapace that can regenerate in less than six seconds after sustaining small arms fire, and the award-winning DoomEye™ point defense system.

The Daqri Qube™ is compatible with a wide variety of connectors and communications protocols, including USB, wi-fi, FireWire, serial port, point-to-point laser communications, telepathy, and dripping messages written in blood that spontaneously manifest on the walls. Additionally, from time to time it emits a low, ominous chanting in an unknown language. The meaning is as-yet unknown, but our top linguistic engineers are exploring the exciting business uses.

The Daqri Qube™ is ergonomically designed to be comfortable for long periods of use, with cushioned handles, a carrying strap (sold separately,) and seventeen separate mucous membranes to provide ample hand lubrication at all times.

The Daqri Qube™ has been cleared of all charges in the 2015 Alabama Chicken Farmers Association v. Daqri 5th Circuit Court case. However, we are legally obligated to inform you that the Daqri Qube is known to display erratic behavior when insulted. Until this minor design flaw is corrected, all new orders will include a tub of Qube Pacification Ointment, free of charge.

The Daqri Qube™ has a battery life of up to seventeen hours under normal conditions, and can be recharged in the field with standard USB battery packs or by leaving it on an obsidian plinth during a solar eclipse.

The Daqri Qube™ comes with a lifetime limited warrantee, with full parts and replacement for the first two years. The Daqri Qube™ w̠̦͓i̱͡l̟̜͖͠l̛̲ ͚̭̯͍̕o̹͜u̖̰̳t̘̞̟̝͓̖̜͘l͍͈͙̩͔͔͝ìv̼̬͓̜̀e͏̮̼̫͈ ̙̦̤̠̖͙̠͠u̧̘̬s̳͎͓͞ ạ̴ͅl̖̺̦͜l.͏̼̝

—  the project manager sent us a message asking us to look up something named the Daqri Qube for him, aka google it for him. I sent him this and he thanked me for being the first person to give an actual answer after reading the first ten words or so.

#2: A Spy Cam In My Christmas Tree Caught More Than Just Santa 

Length: Medium

Last year, on Boxing Day, I found a really cool ornament in a clearance box. It had a built-in camera to record a unique perspective on your holiday celebrations. I grabbed the last one from the store’s dusty shelf and brought it home for less than 10 bucks. I forgot about it until my wife, my two daughters, and I decorated the house earlier this month.

I told my daughters about the camera and said we’d secretly catch Santa in the act. I had an old costume in the attic and intended to deliver some gifts in full view of the camera on Christmas night. My girls were overjoyed, and went back-and-forth trying to find the best place to put the ornament on the tree. They had no idea daddy re-positioned it later so it could actually catch the living room and a good angle.

In the nights leading up to Christmas, I turned the camera on to make sure everything was working properly. In the morning, I previewed the footage - just long enough to confirm the thing was working. Satisfied, I inserted the Micro SD card back into the ornament, and slipped in a new battery in anticipation for the big night. Daddy didn’t want to disappoint his girls with a failed recording.

We enjoyed Christmas Eve as a family, playing board games and eating way more junk food than there was room in our stomachs. Like we do every year, we let our daughters open one gift from mommy and daddy before going to bed. The girls, still riding their sugar-high, could be heard giggling in their bedrooms from all the way up the stairs. 

From time to time, my wife and I could hear one of them shush the other, claiming she’d heard hoofs on the roof or bells jingling. Eventually, our kiddos dosed off. My wife kissed me on the cheek and headed to bed while I turned off all the lights. I retrieved the costume and tiptoed to the living room, getting ready for my big feature film debut.

I did everything you would expect Santa to do: I ate most of the cookies, I drank the milk, I pet my large stomach and said my HO HO HOs, and I dropped a few presents by the fireplace, all in full-view of the camera. A pretty good acting job, if I do say so myself.

On Christmas morning, the girls came running into our bedroom to wake us up. They excitedly insisted we watch the video before opening the presents. I transferred the footage to my laptop, forwarded to where Santa showed up, and pressed ‘play’. 

My girls squealed with delight and jumped in front of the screen, frantically waving at Santa while obscuring the video from my view. It brought me so much joy to see how happy the girls were. I was too lazy to stop the video, so it continued to play in the background while we unwrapped out gifts. I spotted a box I had not seen the night before: it was a small and wrapped in a blue foil paper I did not recognize. My name was on it, but my wife seemed as surprised as I was to see it there. Noticing my confusion, my youngest daughter spoke:

“Daddy! That’s gotta be from Mr. Elf!” she said, her voice cheerful and bright.

I was ready to dismiss her elf comment as just another weird thing kids say, but my wife wasn’t so quick to ignore it.

“Honey, what elf?” she asked.

My daughter pointed to the laptop. By then, the video had ended and all that was left on the screen was a preview of the first frame.

“The one that came with Santa!” she answered.

I know my wife didn’t dress up as an elf. I scanned the video, clicking forward and back until I saw what my daughter had seen: there was someone in the living room. He walked into the corner after I had turned the lights off. He stood there watching me parading around as Santa. The video went completely quiet after that. It was as though the camera failed to record a single sound. The strange, tall man in an elf costume stood perfectly still for over an hour, watching the camera from a distance. 

After a while, he walked over to the plate of cookies and bit the head off a gingerbread man. I glanced at the plate and saw his teeth mark on the decapitated cookie. The man then quietly approached the Christmas tree. I thought the audio wasn’t working, but as he reached the tree, I began hearing his slow and steady breaths. He reached towards the ornament, and the video stopped.

In a terrified frenzy, I grabbed the blue box he’d left behind. I ripped the bow off of it and tossed the frilly thing away. I frantically removed the wrapping paper, opened the box, and looked inside. There, on a bed of bubble wrap, was the battery I’d put in the camera the night before. My wife took the ornament and opened the back: the battery was missing. I don’t know what scares me more: what the camera caught, or what the elf might have done after he turned off the camera.

Credits to: manen_lyset


After hearing Mighty’s countless tales of strange and wonderful new zones, Tails grew so curious that he built a camera for him.  Though Mighty admitted being quite witless with technology, the thought of other people seeing all the places he wandered filled him with joy, and he now takes pictures at an enthusiastic rate (+ some selfies from time to time).



I ordered a champagne at the bar just so we could use it as a prop and everyone was like “yeah they’re definitely gonna need your ID for that” T‿T

Thanks again to @terracanta for taking over the camera!! These were all taken on my phone with minimal editing with the built in software. Phone camera quality these days, damn…

No, this isn’t a scene from The Life Aquatic. What you’re seeing is two biofluorescent catsharks.  

A team of researchers led by scientists from the Museum has found that catsharks are not only able to see the bright green biofluorescence they produce, but that they increase contrast of their glowing pattern when deep underwater. The study, conducted with a custom-built “shark-eye” camera that simulates how the sharks see underwater, shows that that fluorescence helps catsharks see  each other and may even offer them a way to communicate.

Learn more about this research. 


Over 15 Years’ Worth Of Dazzling Art At Burning Man

Photographer NK Guy has been capturing the artworks built for Burning Man on camera for over a decade, recently anthologized his findings in a new book, Art of Burning Man. In it, he pays poetic homage to the way the sun rises over the event’s central sculpture in the mornings, and the glow of LED lights and lasers after sunset. He emphasizes the structures’ ability to bring people together from all walks of life – accomplishing, according to Guy, the feelings of connection that art should achieve, but so often fails to inside of a museum.  

See more stunning art from Burning Man here. 

Tech 2015:
Hoverboards - Fell short of back-to-the-future

VR Headsets - The reality is virtual, the hype is real.

Bluetooth Headphones - Slightly improved battery life.

Smartphones - Slightly faster & thinner than last year’s version.

Smartwatches - Receive photo updates of your friends’ dinner direct to your wrist.

Tablets - Now with added keyboard and stylus, but definitely not a laptop.

Personal Drones - Now with built-in camera to document you crashing your new hoverboard.

Nuka Cola - Same old Fallout, now with added Sims!

BB8 - Initially ridiculed then suddenly adored by all.

Hashtags - #stilldontknowwherewordsstartandend


Swim the kelp forest in 360˚!

Thanks to the folks at BBC Earth Unplugged, you can take a dive into a Pacific kelp forest without ever putting on your swimsuit! YouTube’s new 360˚ VR video support means that you can pan around on your mobile device or in the desktop player just like you were there!

Here’s another video where Sam and I visit with Steve Litvin (the guy who built that underwater 360˚ camera) and talk about how VR cameras can be used to aid science. Then we promptly stole it.

I’ll have my own 360˚ vid from Monterey Bay coming out before too long! Stay tuned!


After further analysis he found that Bill did indeed taste like a dorito


GOD, WOMEN: You’re not smiling enough! You look nasty! You won’t smile back at this guy in town! You’re wearing makeup! You obviously WANT him to stare! If you don’t, what are you wearing those nice clothes and that makeup for, then? Make up your minds!

Another post from Mod K, since you guys gave the go-ahead to post our own art, I’ve decided to post all of my doodles whenever I make them.
So a little explanation for this one for the un-initiated: The dude with the white hair is the in-game version of Khadgar, and in WoW they have this S.E.L.F.I.E camera built in, so of course he’d take stupid pictures with his young self were they to meet.
So yeah, Mod K is terrible at summarizing stuff.



Custom medium format pinhole camera

Photographer: Yuuji Takahashi / flickr

This is a homemade medium format pinhole camera built from scratch- Takahashi-san calls it the diy 66 Zoom Pinhole- you can see a selection of pictures shot with it on flickr at its different (approx) zoom lengths: 35mm , 50mm, and 80mm. Check out his flickr stream for more examples of his film camera customization.

Based on this OTP Prompt

“Bye Ren!~” Nora chimed, calling to her bestest friend in all of Remnant. She closes and locks her door and turns to walk to her kitchen.

She reaches to open her fridge when a small device on her bench catches her eye, Ren had left his scroll there, on her bench, unattended.

Perfect,’ Nora thought, a smirk appearing on her face.

Nora took the scroll in her hand and swiped it open, Ren never used a passcode on it, though his friends have warned him many times in the past. Nora opened the in built camera feature and held it up, the camera directed at her, and tapped the “Photo” button non-stop, taking hundreds of selfies on it. Making different poses for each one.

She spent 20 whole minutes just taking photo’s of herself, only to be stopped by the sound of her doorbell. She placed the scroll back down on her bench and skipped to the door.

It was Ren, “I think I forgot my scroll…” He says, Nora lets him past and she smiles to herself, attempting to hide giggles of joy trying to force their way out.

“Found it!” He calls from the kitchen and heads back. He kisses Nora on the cheek on his way out.


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