Researchers at Columbia University have developed a new modular imaging system called Cambits, which allows users to build their own cameras from an array of multicolored, 3D-printed blocks. With the system, photographers can change out sensors, flashes, optical attachments, and lenses in mere seconds by switching them out from the camera base.

“Traditional cameras are really like black boxes that take one type of image,” Shree K. Nayar, a computer science professor at Columbia University and co-developer of the system, said in a story on Columbia Engineering's website. “We wanted to rethink the instrument, to come up with a hardware and software system that is modular, reconfigurable, and able to capture all kinds of images. We see Cambits as a wonderful way to unleash the creativity in all of us.”

Each of Cambits’ modular blocks are color-coded and attach with magnets instead of screws and cables, making it easier—and faster—to change them out. Once connected, these blocks have the ability to transfer data, get power from its base, and control signals and options through spring-loaded pins throughout the camera. According to Gizmodo, Cambits can also be used as an on-the-go microscope and for stereoscopic 3D imaging.

“We hope this reconfigurable system will open the door to new avenues of creativity, bringing new dimensions to an art form we all enjoy,” Nayar said.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Images courtesy Columbia Engineering/YouTube.