Sensor for object locking

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#1
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Hi Freaks,
Is there any design out there that locks a camera focus to a moving object? I thought about this when I was taking some pictures of a bird and the bird flew away and I could never get it in my camera again. Any camera that can lock to an object even when it moves? Is this already done?
Thanks.

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Isn't that what the sports mode is for? If your camera has it.....

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Never heard of that mode before. Will have to check if my Sony Cybershot has it.

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Probably not. Focus tracking is something for higher class cameras and not on consumer compact cameras.

My low end Nikon D40 can focus continuously, as long as I keep the subject in the currently selected AF area.

Higher end camera can follow the subject without having to keep the camera pointed at the subject and I guess that's what you want?

Sports mode on your camera likely is just a preference for fast shutter speeds to freeze motion.

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How is the tracking done? Is it tracking body heat? Ideally anything that moves would have a heat signature right? (unless it is something that is being towed)

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First the subject must stay visible, otherwise there is not much to photograph.

Non-SLR cameras use the CCD/CMOS image sensor and determine focus by looking at contrast. When something is in focus, contrast between pixels tends to be the biggest.

(d)SLRs use a dedicated image single line image sensor, IIRC comparing two optically seperated images.

Exactly how autofocus algorithms work are a trade secret ;)