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Spotlight on Optics

Spotlight on Optics


  • February 2012

Optics InfoBase > Spotlight on Optics > Super deep 3D images from a 3D omnifocus video camera

Super deep 3D images from a 3D omnifocus video camera

Published in Applied Optics, Vol. 51 Issue 6, pp.763-770 (2012)
by Keigo Iizuka

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Spotlight summary: If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a stereoscopic scene seems like worth a million words. Ability to communicate a 3D scene as the observer perceives it can have fundamental impact on human communication. Although the entertainment industry is leading the pack in employing new technologies for producing and displaying 3D scenes, other industries (telemedicine, medical imaging, geological explorations, defense, etc.) can benefit immensely from 3D imaging and display technologies.

The lenses present in the human visual system (combined with brain’s processing power) provide us with stereoscopic perception over a remarkable range of depths. Current 3D recording technologies use conventional cameras that cannot match the ability of human eye to perceive a large range of depths – simply because they have to be focused at some distance. A couple of approaches of extending the depth of focus of a camera have found wide-spread acceptance: a) reducing the imaging aperture to a point, e.g., pinhole camera, and b) using lenslet arrays to record the position and direction of the light-field travelling towards the viewer, e.g., camera being developed by Lytro (www.lytro.com). Practical limitations of light efficiency and recording speed have constrained the previous two approaches to the recording of still photos rather than of movies. Prior to the present paper, Keigo Iizuka, developed a real-time system with super deep depth of focus by combining several video cameras, focused at different depths, and an IR camera that measures the distance from the object in each pixel. This unique system (termed omnifocus camera) allows recording of movies in which objects located over a wide range of distances are in focus at the same time. This opens up the possibility of designing 3D recording and display technology that better match the range of depths that human eyes can perceive.

In the present paper, Keigo Iizuka, describes an ingenious exploitation of the omnifocus camera for recording and displaying stereoscopic scenes. In a lucid style, the author describes the optical modification that enables the omnifocus camera to record left and right eye views of a scene with super deep depth of focus. The author walks the readers through the development of a display system that lets the viewer perceive the depths recordable by the omnifocus camera. The paper not only describes important concepts about human visual perception, but also clever ways of implementing optical systems and displays that benefit from these concepts. Reading about the innovations described in the paper and references therein is sure to delight anyone interested in communicating scenes worth a million words.

--Shalin Mehta

Technical Division: Information Acquisition, Processing, and Display
ToC Category: Image Processing
OCIS Codes: (040.7290) Detectors : Video
(100.0100) Image processing : Image processing
(110.0110) Imaging systems : Imaging systems
(110.6880) Imaging systems : Three-dimensional image acquisition
(150.6910) Machine vision : Three-dimensional sensing
(150.6044) Machine vision : Smart cameras

Posted on February 16, 2012

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