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

Sound tech for blind film-lovers

Sound tech for blind film-lovers

Dr Mariana Lopez, from Anglia Ruskin University, is leading the study to explore how a story can be told without the need for a track describing events. Her team is using surround-sound and other audio technologies. Initial trials with volunteers with sight loss have been successful, said Dr Lopez. "One of the problems with traditional

Office puts chips under staff’s skin

Office puts chips under staff’s skin

The chip allows employees to open doors and use the photocopier without a traditional pass card More from Rory Should schools gorge on gadgets? Shazam – a billion dollar London success Centcom – a PR disaster, not cyberwar The Thing About Vegas Want to gain entry to your office, get on a bus, or perhaps

US firms object to source code rules

US firms object to source code rules

The groups wrote to senior government officials after the introduction of the cybersecurity regulations at the end of last year. The US Chamber of Commerce and other groups called the rules "intrusive". The regulations initially apply to firms selling products to Chinese banks but are part of a wider review. "An overly broad, opaque, discriminatory

Sky to launch mobile phone service

Sky to launch mobile phone service

Sky will use Telefonica UK's wireless network, enabling the satellite broadcaster to offer mobile voice and data services for the first time. It takes Sky into the battle for "quad play", adding mobile to its existing services of internet, landline and TV. Offering all four services is seen as the next big UK growth area

First-class fliers get virtual reality

First-class fliers get virtual reality

In the first tie-up of its kind, the airline has teamed up with Samsung to provide the headsets for in-flight entertainment. The Samsung Gear VR headsets will show a variety of tailored content. Experts have questioned how much content will be available and what the impact on fellow passengers might be. Qantas said the headset

read more