December 23, 2015

Unsynchronized Structured Light

(December 23, 2015)  Various Structured Light (SL) methods are used to capture 3D range images, where a number of binary or continuous light patterns are sequentially projected onto a scene of interest, while a digital cam- era captures images of the illuminated scene. All existing SL meth- ods require the projector and camera to be hardware or software synchronized, with one image captured per projected pattern. A 3D range image is computed from the captured images. The two synchronization methods have disadvantages, which limit the use of SL methods to niche industrial and low quality consumer ap- plications. Unsynchronized Structured Light (USL) is a novel SL method which does not require synchronization of pattern projec- tion and image capture. The light patterns are projected and the images are captured independently, at constant, but possibly dif- ferent, frame rates. USL synthesizes new binary images as would be decoded from the images captured by a camera synchronized to the projector, reducing the subsequent computation to standard SL. USL works both with global and rolling shutter cameras. USL enables most burst-mode-capable cameras, such as modern smart- phones, tablets, DSLRs, and point-and-shoots, to function as high quality 3D snapshot cameras. Beyond the software, which can run in the devices, a separate SL Flash, able to project the sequence of patterns cyclically, during the acquisition time, is needed to enable the functionality.

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