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

Piquet Jr wins Formula E title

Piquet Jr wins Formula E title

Driving for Chinese team Nextev, Piquet Jr had his lead cut to five points after his e.dams rival won on Saturday. Had Buemi taken fourth place from Bruno Senna on the final lap on Sunday, then the title would have gone to the Swiss. Sam Bird won the race for Virgin. Bird was handed the

Pepper robot to go on sale to public

Pepper robot to go on sale to public

SoftBank, the company behind the robot, is planning to release 1,000 robots every month. Pepper will sell for 198,000 yen (£1,000), and businesses will be able to rent it for 1,500 yen an hour. Robotic expert Prof Noel Sharkey said SoftBank's business strategy was "risky". Although the upfront price is relatively cheap for a sophisticated

Women to feature in Fifa 16 game

Women to feature in Fifa 16 game

England captain Steph Houghton and her team-mates have been included with 11 other womens' sides for play in one of several game modes. Until now only mens' teams have featured on the popular EA Sports game which was first released in 1993. "To be one of the first female players included is something we'll always

Taming Africa’s deadly transport chaos

Taming Africa’s deadly transport chaos

Cars, lavishly decorated buses, reckless matatu minibus taxis, and daredevil motorbike riders intermingle with the odd herd of cows to create a gridlocked maze, and a nightmare for the commuter trying to get home. Not only is the transport sector in much of Africa similarly chaotic, it is also notoriously dangerous – Africa has the

Bitcoin Island: the currency comes clean

Bitcoin Island: the currency comes clean

They are all success stories from the Isle of Man. The small independent island in the middle of the Irish Sea is now hoping to give a wholesome boost to the bad boy of digital currencies, Bitcoin. Bitcoin tends to hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons – the spectre of infamous Japanese exchange

read more