A new depth-sensing camera technology developed by CMU and the
University of Toronto can capture 3-D information in even brightly lit scenes;
a prototype is able to sense the shape of a lit CFL bulb (above) that
would create blinding glare for a conventional camera (below).
CMU, Toronto Researchers Foresee Applications in Medicine, Games, Space Exploration
(August 10, 2015) Depth-sensing cameras, such as Microsoft’s Kinect controller for video games, have become widely used 3-D sensors. Now, a new imaging technology invented by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Toronto addresses a major shortcoming of these cameras: the inability to work in bright light, especially sunlight.
The key is to gather only the bits of light the camera actually needs. The researchers created a mathematical model to help program these devices so that the camera and its light source work together efficiently, eliminating extraneous light, or “noise,” that would otherwise wash out the signals needed to detect a scene’s contours.
“We have a way of choosing the light rays we want to capture and only those rays,” said Srinivasa Narasimhan, CMU associate professor of robotics. “We don’t need new image-processing algorithms and we don’t need extra processing to eliminate the noise, because we don’t collect the noise. This is all done by the sensor.”
One prototype based on this model synchronizes a laser projector with a common rolling-shutter camera — the type of camera used in most smartphones — so that the camera detects light only from points being illuminated by the laser as it scans across the scene.