Australian researcher develops 3D vision camera

June 20th, 2008 - 1:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 20 (IANS) An Australian researcher has developed a camera that can measure distance and generate 3D images. It is likely to impact the video gaming and medical industries. Existing techniques measure distance using a laser that generates a single spot. It measures the distance to that spot and moves to another spot and repeats the action to build up a picture.

“Our system, rather than sending out a laser spot, lights up the entire area like a light-bulb and measures it all in one go,” Andrew Payne of Waikato University, who designed the camera, said.

“It’s very easy to measure one spot on a wall, but new technology now allows us to create something that can measure many points at once.”

The camera works by sending out light and measuring how long it takes to reflect back. From that you can work out how far away the object is.

“If a mobile robot goes down a corridor and uses range-imaging, it will be able to determine whether it’s looking at a poster on a wall or looking through an open doorway because what it is seeing is further away,” Payne said.

“It is measuring the distance from itself to what is in front of it. It can actually see that the background is further away.

“If there is a cancer in the body and you want to hit the cancer but not the surrounding tissue with radiation, then the machine can be used to determine the patient’s position, allowing the radiation to be aimed precisely at the area requiring treatment,” said Payne.

Payne, 27, has won a three-year post-doctoral research position to work on range-imaging at the university.

Payne’s device is about 30 cm long, a normal digital video camera with other optical features added. Part of Payne’s post-doctoral work will be to reduce the size of the machine to that of a digital still camera.

Eventually it could be used to revolutionise the video gaming industry, Payne said. “PS2 already uses a camera system to track a game-player’s movement but it’s just a standard video camera. It will be much easier to track the player with this system.”

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