Resolution of 3D depth cameras could be enhanced 1,000x with new technique

12/14/2015 - 17:26

Imagine 3-D depth cameras built into cellphones, 3-D printing replicas, and driverless cars with clear vision in rain, snow, or fog

MIT researchers have shown that by exploiting light polarization (as in polarized sunglasses) they can increase the resolution of conventional 3-D imaging devices such as the Microsoft Kinect as much as 1,000 times.

The technique could lead to high-quality 3-D cameras built into cellphones, and perhaps the ability to snap a photo of an object and then use a 3-D printer to produce a replica. Further out, the work could also help the development of driverless cars.


Ref: Polarized 3D: High-quality Depth Sensing with Polarization Cues (PDF)


Coarse depth maps can be enhanced by using the shape information from polarization cues. We propose a framework to combine surface normals from polarization (hereafter polarization normals) with an aligned depth map. Polarization normals have not been used for depth enhancement before. This is because polarization normals suffer from physics-based artifacts, such as azimuthal ambiguity, refractive distortion and fronto-parallel signal degradation. We propose a framework to overcome these key challenges, allowing the benefits of polarization to be used to enhance depth maps. Our results demonstrate improvement with respect to state-of-the-art 3D reconstruction techniques.