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Thursday, February 21, 2008

3D Graphics From New Camera Chip

3D Graphics From New Chip

3D Pictures Will Open Up New Graphics Opportunities

If you've ever wanted to remove an unwanted background from a digital picture or create 3D artwork, you may soon be able to do so using images shot with your new 3D camera.

Researchers at Stanford University have come up with a chip which can record pictures in 3D. Unlike normal camera sensors, the three megapixel chip array uses overlapping 16x16 arrays of pixels. Known as "sub-arrays", each has its own lens.

Because these arrays get their images from slightly different angles, 3D information can be recorded by examining the differences between the images, very similar to the way the human brain captures depth information from comparing the stereoscopic images from our two eyes.


Adobe has shown a similar setup, but it uses a large number of lenses grouped together in an arrangement similar to a fly's eye. The Stanford chip would be smaller and thus easier to mount in a camera lens housing . The 3D information is currently stored simply as metadata in the image, so software could easily be designed to, for instance, eliminate busy backgrounds from photographs.

When images taken by the multi-aperture device are processed by specialized software, differences in location are measured from each mini-lens, and then combined into a photograph containing a depth map. This procedure allows the same image to appear at different angles, provided the subject has depth to begin with (for example, it's not a flat surface).

Let's hope that the product development cycle is short for this exciting new technology.

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