Aug 05

Samsung Patents Modified Light Field Sensor with Monochrome Sub-Images

Fig. 6 from Samsung's patent application shows three exemplary colour-filtered light rays passing through microlenses to create monochrome sub-images (Fig. modified from Lee et al., 2014). In order to record colour images, camera sensors typically use a colour filter array consisting of red, green, and blue filters on top of the light-intensity sensing sub-pixels. After recording each sub-pixel’s light intensity, the so-called “demosaic” process combines four monochrome sub-pixels (2x red, 2x green, 1x blue) into a single pixel containing RGB colour information.
In microlens-based light field cameras, this “demosaic” job may result in a blur effect around the boundaries of objects in the final image.
Image Sensors World found a patent application by Samsung which can solve this blur-problem: In the patent application entitled “Photographing device and photographing method for taking picture by using a plurality of microlenses”, authors Tae-Hee Lee et al. propose moving the colour filter in front of the microlenses (instead of having them behind the microlenses), creating single-colour sub-images. Continue reading

Jul 15

Visera Patents Integrated Light Field Sensor Manufacturing Process

Fig. 3 from the patent application shows a schematic of a light field camera including the proposed single-piece light field sensor (picture modified from Wang et al., 2014) Light field technology is making its way into the mainstream, but the production and assembly of some of its components has not quite reached an efficient scale of mass production.
A typical light field sensor consists of an ordinary image sensor and a microlens array (MLA) or printed mask.
In the assembly of light field sensors, one of the most vital processes is the precise adjustment of the MLA‘s position on the sensor. This adjustment is required for every individual sensor and can thus take up a long time. Since the MLA is usually positioned using screws or springs, physical impact on the light field camera may displace the light field sensor’s layers.

With patent application US 20140183334 A1 “Image sensor for light field device and manufacturing method thereof“, recently discovered by Image Sensors World, Visera Technologies is aiming for an integrated manufacturing method for light field sensors: Authors Wei-Ko Wang and colleagues propose a system where two layers of microlenses (and an intermediate space layer) are formed directly on the image sensor using semiconductor processes. Continue reading

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 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 04

Light Field Microscope: New Imaging System Allows Real-Time 3D Microscopy

Light Field Microscopy: New Imaging System Allows Real-Time 3D Microscopy (image: Kim et al. 2014) One of the most exciting fields in science where light field imaging (or plenoptic imaging) has a great potential is microscopy: Not only is the depth of field very limited in microscopy, it also enables us to observe things much smaller than what the eye can see. Extended depth of field and 3D reconstruction would offer many opportunities, such as to better understand the three-dimensional internal structure of plant- or animal cells and tissues, to name just one example.
3D imaging using multi-camera approaches is very difficult in microscopy due to space limitations and the strong effects of parallax, but light field imaging can solve these problems. Until now, however, light field microscopy is still largely defined by resource-intensive post-processing, which limits real-time applications and observations.

In a recent publication in the journal Optics Express, researchers from Seoul National University and Harvard Medical School in Boston present a novel light field microscopy system that enables light field microscopy with real-time 3D display. Continue reading