Published in News

Boffins come up with single lens 3D

Coming at you cheaply

A team at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has come up with a way of creating 3D images from a stationary camera with a single lens. The system saves money by using a mathematical model to generate images with depth rather than needing expensive hardware.

Currently two lenses are used to capture a subject from slightly different perspectives. But the technique developed by Kenneth Crozier and Anthony Orth at SEAS achieves the same result, but using software. An algorithm creates a 3D movie using two pictures taken from a stationary camera but at different focus depths.

A mathematical model calculates at what angle the light is striking each pixel. It does this by comparing the slight differences between two images taken from the same position but focused at different depths. The two images can then be stitched together in an animation that gives the impression of a stereo.

Dubbed "light-field moment imaging," allows single lens cameras to produce 3D images. At the moment the camera aperture must be wide enough to let in light from a wide range of angles. This rules out a smartphone lens but a standard 50 mm lens on a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera does the job.

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