Unlike humans, the eye structure of animals like honeybees and hummingbirds means they can see ultraviolet light.
Ever wanted to know how animals see the world? That might soon be possible as new tech provides insight into the way they perceive colours.
Different animals perceive the world differently because of how their eyes work. Humans have three types of colour-sensing cells called cone cells in our retinas allowing us to see red, green and blue wavelengths of light. Mixtures of these three colours make up the rainbow of hues we see every day.
Unlike humans, the eye structure of animals like honeybees and hummingbirds means they can see ultraviolet (UV) light. It helps them to find nectar and opens up a wide spectrum of colours we can’t even imagine.
To understand how these creatures communicate and interact with the world around them, scientists can reconstruct their view of the world. But traditional methods to do this are often time-consuming, require specific lighting or can’t capture moving images.
Now new technology is allowing ecologists and filmmakers to produce videos which recreate the colours different animals see with over 90 per cent accuracy.
How does the animal eye view camera work?
“We’ve long been fascinated by how animals see the world,” says Daniel Hanley, one of the authors of the research and an assistant professor of biology at George Mason University.
Hanley adds that animals often make crucial decisions on targets using moving objects, which makes moving pictures vital to understanding them.
The new camera system records in four different colour channels: blue, green, red and UV. Images are then processed based on what is already known about the light receptors in an animal’s eyes to create an accurate representation of what they see.
“The camera system and the associated software package will allow ecologists to investigate how animals use colours in dynamic behavioural displays, the ways natural illumination alters perceived colours, and other questions that remained unaddressed until now due to a lack of suitable tools,” the researchers write.
The tech was developed by researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK and the Hanley Color Lab at George Mason University in the US. It uses cameras anyone can buy, open-source software and 3D printing, allowing other teams around the world to recreate the animal-eye view.
Watch the video above to get an animal-eye view of the world.