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Selfies, Space and Surgery: How digital imaging sensors have shaped our world

In celebration of the winners collecting the 2017 QEPrize from Buckingham Palace earlier this week, an event was hosted at the Science Museum on 7 December 2017.

More than 120 students from secondary schools across London joined to hear the story of digital imaging sensors from the inventors themselves. Leading the conversation was BBC Click presenter, LJ Rich. With an eye on the latest gadgets, LJ has a keen interest in all things tech and everything unusual! Professor Alison Noble, Technikos Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Associate Head of MPLS Division completed the panel of engineering experts, alongside ‘Rocket Woman’, Vinita Marwaha Madill.

From selfies to space snaps and surgery, students explored the true story behind digital imaging sensors and found out just how they are shaping the future!

Every time we look at a picture online, the chances are it has been taken using a camera with this year’s QEPrize winning technology inside. Around 50 CMOS image sensors (the ones found in smartphones and cameras!) are produced every second of the day, every day of the year, and their applications are limitless. The impact of these inventions is staggering.

LJ opened the event by highlighting the reach of digital imaging sensors across our universe. The Curiosity Rover on Mars sent us the ultimate selfie from another planet. Satellites equipped with cameras help us predict the weather and prepare for storms. On a fly-by in 2015, NASA’s ‘New Horizon’ spacecraft delivered the closest photos of Pluto ever taken, sending them over 4.5 billion miles back to Earth.

It’s not just in space that imaging sensors are making their mark, however. If you’ve ever had to have surgery, digital imaging sensors are likely to have helped diagnose your illness.  On the roads, cameras are vital in driverless cars. And of course, digital imaging sensors have transformed the way we communicate with family and friends around the world.

After giving the gathered audience a potted history of the imaging sensor, LJ quizzed the prize-winning engineers and our expert panel. Vinita took us on a journey through space in the time before digital imaging, while Alison explored the evolution of medical imaging through the years.

Following the discussion, students had the chance to quiz the world’s leading engineers themselves, exchanging views on everything from discovering the selfie to preventing the rise of sentient robots! To find out more about the QEPrize winners and their latest award, head over to the QEPrize YouTube channel or join in the conversation on Twitter.

News article was originally posted on the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering website.

Published on: 15 December 2017