Jul 01

Sony Patents Light Field Sensor with Full-Resolution 3D Stereo Output

With today’s light field sensors, extracting 3D stereo images from light field recordings typically results in a lowered effective image resolution – but that limitation may soon be history: Sony has developed a novel sensor design with overlapping pixels in two layers, that will allow 3D output without the typical decrease in image resolution. In Sony’s recently granted US Patent, Nr. US20140071244, author Isao Hirota introduces a dual level microlens array setup in combination with a sensor that consists of two layers of light sensitive pixel grids – front-facing and back-facing grids that are rotated at, for example, 45 degrees.
The described configuration allows different neighbouring pixels to share the same information from a single microlens while being allocated to either the left or right stereo views, resulting in higher-resolution 3D stereo output from a single-lens, single-sensor device (i.e. a “monocular 3D stereo camera”).

Fig. 8 from the patent application shows an example setup which uses both a multilens array (34) as well as an additional on-chip lens array (OCL, 35) and color filter array (33) to create a stereo light field image. Fig. 18 from the patent application is a diagram illustrating a CMOS image sensor in which pixels are arranged in a matrix of 2x2 and, for the second layer of pixels, rotated by 45 degrees for multiple perspectives output in the Bayer arrangement.
Fig. 19 from the patent application illustrates how the setup in Fig. 18 allows for nine perspective images (incl. 6 actual parallax images and 3 interpolated ones), making the setup suitable for a monocular 3D stereo camera. Fig. 27 provides examples of electric potential distribution of the light receiving face (back face) in a typical square (A) and triangular (B) pixel, showing that the microlenses can be circular, ellipsoidal or polygonal shapes to improve the lenses' extinction ratios.

Patent abstract: Continue reading

Jun 17

Lytro Announces New Open File Format and Open-Source WebGL Player, due July 15

Lytro Announces New Open File Format and Open-Source WebGL Player, due July 15 One of the major points of critique about Lytro’s light field camera(s) is that the only way to share your pictures online is to upload them to Lytro‘s servers first.
Now, in an effort to boost adoption of light field photography, Lytro has announced a new open file format for light field pictures, which will be based on the WebGL standard for 3D graphics. It will be released as an open source project on GitHub, together with a matching, open-source WebGL Player, which will allow users to host interactive light field pictures on their own websites and servers.

“One barrier to [adoption] is we are not as widely deployed and accepted as JPEG,” CEO Jason Rosenthal said in an interview. “We want to start changing that.”

Continue reading

Jun 11

Meet Lytro’s rumoured “Android-Powered” Light Field Camera: The Lytro Illum

There has been a wave of reports about a rumoured new Lytro camera that will be running Android. All of these reports can be traced back to a tweet by @evleaks:

While tech blogs – especially those covering Android news – are speculating on the details of such a device, we’d like to lift the secret around it. Meet… the Lytro Illum. Continue reading

Jun 06

Nvidia Near-Eye Light Field Display: Background, Design and History [Video]

Nvidia Near-Eye Light Field Display: Binocular OLED-based prototype (Youtube Screenshot) About a year ago, Nvidia presented a novel head-mounted display that is based on light field technology and offers both depth and refocus capability to the human eye. Their so-called Near-Eye Light Field Display was more a proof of concept, but it’s exciting new technology that solves a number of existing problems with stereoscopic virtual reality glasses.

Nvidia researcher Douglas Lanman recently gave a talk at Augmented World Expo (AWE2014), in which he explained the background and evolution of head-mounted displays and the history and design of Nvidia’s near-eye light field display prototypes: Continue reading

May 27

MIT: Compressive Light Field Projection System for new Glasses-Free 3D Displays

Illustration of concept. A light field projector, build using readily-available optics and electronics, emits a 4D light field onto a screen that expands the field of view so that observers on the other side of the screen can enjoy glasses-free 3D entertainment. No mechanically moving parts are used in either the projector or the screen. Additionally, the screen is completely passive, potentially allowing for the system to be scaled to significantly larger dimensions. (picture: MIT Media Lab, Camera Culture Group)Today’s glasses-free 3D displays ususally consist of dozens of devices, which makes them not only very complex, but also bulky, energy-consuming and costly. At SIGGRAPH 2014 conference, Gordon Wetzstein and Matthew Hirsch from the MIT’s Camera Culture Group presented a new approach to glasses-free 3D that is based on projectors and optical technology found in Keplerian telescopes. Their novel method for “Compressive Light Field Projection” consists of a single device without mechanically moving parts.
Because it’s relatively cheap to build with today’s optics and electronics, the presented prototype could pave the way for cinema-scale glasses-free 3D displays. Continue reading