Last updated August 4, 2017 at 4:51 pm
New findings about honeybee vision could have big applications for technological vision systems.
Did anybody else know that honeybees have FIVE eyes? This was complete news to me, and thanks to research from RMIT, we now know they do something pretty special with the extra three – more accurately known as ocelli – that could have big applications for cameras, robots, and other light-sensing systems.
For honeybees (and in fact, for us, but for different physiological reasons) it’s really easy to know that a sunflower is always bright yellow. Whether it’s grey and overcast or sunny and clear, their visual system is set up to compensate using those three ocelli. These extra eyes sit right on top of the head, pointing straight up, taking in ambient light. Meanwhile, the compound eyes on the sides of the bee’s head are busy taking in the colour of the flowers and the rest of the environment. By putting that information together, honeybees seamlessly see perfect colour.
For cameras and vision sensing systems, the world is a lot less consistent. Whenever the ambient light changes, it seems to the camera that the colour of the objects it looks like changes. Out in the sun things tend to look a little blue, and in hipster cafes full of Edison bulbs things seem downright orange.
The research team has figured out the maths of how the honeybee vision system works, so the next step is incorporating this biological solution into future technology.