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High-density 3D imaging makes 3D photos and videos available to all

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 2:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 2:09pm

[Sponsored Article] Focusing before taking a photo will soon be a thing of the past. Prof. Lee Wing-bun and his research team at the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering have developed a “Compound Eye” imaging system for high-density 3D imaging. This innovation was inspired by the physiological structure of the compound eyes of flies. Applying ultraprecision rolled plate machining technology, precise 3D images can be captured at a tiny fraction of the cost, only one ten thousandth of the cost of the conventional method. This low-cost system will hugely democratise the making and reproduction of 3D images on portable devices and realise higher quality images.

With arrays composed of 12,000 microlenses, the technology can acquire realistic 3D images of objects at both near and far fields and achieve a “shoot first, focus later” effect. Powerful software that comes with the system then analyses and calibrates the distances and spatial relationships between each and every object in the scene to re-create the actual 3D space. By processing the captured images, this technology provides a solution for the image distortion caused by conditions such as insufficient light and inadequate resolution.

The Compound Eye is useful not only for recording 3D information accurately, but also for reproducing 3D images. Prof. Lee explained, “a tablet or smartphone with a Compound Eye screen sticker can reproduce truly naked-eye 3D images”. He also pointed out that making and watching 3D photos and videos will not break the bank in future.

This technology can be broadly used in imaging applications, including high-precision surface profile, displacement and velocity measurements. Licensed to Marvel Digital Limited specialising in 3D displays business, this type of lens could further be developed and used in optical cameras for medical devices, Lytro cinema cameras and 3D scanners, in addition to the production of 3D photos and videos.

The invention won a Gold Medal and a Special Award from the Russian House for International Scientific and Technological Cooperation at the 44th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva.