Subscribe to RSS

Camera takes 3D photos in the dark

Camera takes 3D photos in the dark

The team captured images of objects, using just single particles of light, known as a photons.

"Billions" of photons would be required to take a photo using the camera on a mobile phone.

The researchers say the technology could be used to help soldiers on combat operations.

Ahmed Kirmani, who wrote the paper containing the findings, said the research has been called "counter-intuitive" as normally the number of photons detected would tell you how bright an image was.

"With only one photon per pixel you would expect the image to be completely featureless," he told the BBC.


Combat advantage

The camera technology already existed and is similar to the Lidar system used by Google for its Streetview service he explained.

Lidar uses laser pulses and the team used the reflected photons to create their 3D image

"We borrowed the principles form this, the detectors can identify single photons but they still need hundreds of thousands to form images. But we took the system to its limit."

Lidar uses a laser to fire pulses of light towards an object in a grid sequence. Each location on the grid corresponds to a pixel in the final image.

Normally the laser would fire a large number of times at each grid position and detect multiple reflected photons.

In contrast the system used by the MIT team moved on to the next position in the grid as soon as it had detected a single photon.

A conventional Lidar system would require about 100 times as many photons to make a similar image to the one the team captured which means the system could provide "substantial savings in energy and time".

The team say the technology could be used in many different fields. It could help ophthalmologists when they want to create an image of a patient's eye without having to shine a bright light in someone's eye.

The research was part funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency which commissions research for the Department of Defense. Mr Kirmani said the military could use the technology to allow soldiers to see in the dark, giving them an advantage in combat situations.

Current 3D imaging techniques require more than single photons unlike the team's new system

"Any technology that enhances a military's ability to navigate, target or engage in near-total darkness would be highly prized. 3D imagery married with existing imagery and navigation technologies could significantly enhance the capabilities currently possessed," said Reed Foster, a defence analyst at IHS.

Eventually, the researchers explain, the technology could be developed to make 3D cameras for mobile phones. The camera requires less light than the ones currently available and therefore uses less power.

0 comments

Other articlesgo to homepage

How to mint your own virtual money

How to mint your own virtual money

That is the name of the virtual crypto-currency I created to see how easy it is to leap on the virtual cash bandwagon. That bandwagon briefly propelled each Bitcoin, the best known crypto-currency, to be worth about $1,200 (£715). Currently each virtual coin trades for much less than half of the value of that November

Big data dividend for small firms?

Big data dividend for small firms?

Is big data – and all the useful insights we can glean from analysing this growing plethora of digital information – solely the preserve of big business? Far from it, comes the resounding answer from a chorus of experts. Big data, and the analytical techniques associated with it, could help give your small business the

Amazon profits thin as expenses jump

Amazon profits thin as expenses jump

The firm said strong sales – which increased by 23% to $19.74bn – helped contribute to the profit growth. "2014 is off to a kinetic start," said Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos in a statement. However, investors were disappointed by increasing expenses – which rose 23% from a year earlier – and ate

Microsoft earnings beat estimates

Microsoft earnings beat estimates

The software maker's efforts to move further into cloud computing – a move championed by new chief executive Satya Nadella – seem to be paying off. Azure, a cloud computing product, saw revenue grow 150%, Microsoft. The company also said it added 1 million users to its subscription-based Office programme for personal users. Microsoft sold

France mulls GPS car-sharing app ban

France mulls GPS car-sharing app ban

The government is desperate to placate taxi unions which are increasingly frustrated by private lift-sharing schemes. It has drawn up a set of recommendations which include banning such services displaying maps of the location of available cars. One car-sharing start-up said that the recommendation was "bizarre". "This is a big problem for us," said Pierre-Dimitri

read more