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3-D Cameras For Cellphones

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depth map

Depth-sensing cameras can produce 'depth maps' like this one, in which distances are depicted as shades on a gray-scale spectrum (lighter objects are closer, darker ones farther away).

Credit: Flickr

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers are developing a three-dimensional (3-D) device that provides more accurate depth information than Microsoft's Kinect, has a greater range, and works under all lighting conditions. The researchers say the device is so small, inexpensive, and powerful that it could be integrated into conventional cell phones at very little extra cost.

"In consumer electronics, people are very interested in 3D for immersive communication, but then they're also interested in 3D for human-computer interaction," says MIT professor Vivek Goyal.

The device uses the "time of flight" of light particles to measure depth. To add a third dimension to the depth map, the researchers used parametric signal processing, a technique that converts all the surfaces in a scene to flat planes, which enables the computer's algorithms to run more smoothly.

Although the algorithms are simple enough to run on smartphone processors, one obstacle to deployment of the system in a mobile device could be the difficulty of emitting light pulses of adequate intensity without draining the battery, says Harvard University professor Yue M. Lu.

From MIT News
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