US researchers have developed a new type of adaptive camera lens made from microscopic droplets of water that wobble in time with sound from a miniature speaker.

The scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute made a liquid lens that captures 250 pictures per second and requires considerably less energy to operate than current technologies.

Pictures that look good enough to drink

A pair of water droplets vibrate when exposed to high frequency soundwaves, altering their focus as they move. Image processing software automatically deletes blurred images and captures the sharp ones – theoretically up to 100,000 times a second.

The lightweight, low cost lenses, are intended for use in the next generation of cameraphones, or for ultra-miniaturised cameras in tiny robot spy aircraft.