Light field technology that’s currently available, like the Lytro Illum or Raytrix’ industrial light field cameras, is largely based on microlens arrays which allow the flat imaging sensor to infer the direction of light rays in addition to their colour and intensity. While Raytrix has managed to ramp up spatial resolution to 25% of the actual sensor resolution by way of a customised, heterogeneous microlens array, effective resolution is still a limitation of today’s light field cameras.
Now, researchers at the Nanoelectronics and Nanophotonics Lab, University of Michigan, have announced working on a different approach that would allow capturing complete light fields at full sensor resolution. Rather than microlenses in front of a standard imaging sensor, the team around Zhaohui Zhong are developing a new sensor consisting of several transparent light detectors based on graphene, a material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms. Continue reading
3D displays are slowly moving into mainstream, but most of the technologies used today require the viewers to wear special 3D glasses, or watch from a very defined, small optimum viewpoint. More advanced 3D displays use eye tracking, and create a stereoscopic effect by specifically sending different images to either eye.
David Fattal and colleagues from HP Laboratories in Palo Alto, California developed a new approach to glasses-free 3D displays, which comes with a number of improvements: Their prototype displays use multi-directional diffractive backlight technology, which makes them particularly well-suited for mobile devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, or watches). They’re high-resolution, very thin (<1 mm), don’t require eye tracking, and feature a very wide view zone (up to 180 degrees) at an observation distance of up to a metre. Their work was recently published in Nature.
In traditional digital imaging, the projected image is expressed as a set of pixels which contain two coordinates (x, y) and their respective values for colour and brightness. LightField technology enables us to record more and richer image information, also saving the direction of the lightrays. The extra data enables exciting new possibilities, but also accounts for a significant increase in file size and required computing power, which further rises with increasing resolution.
LightField Technology brings several never-before seen features to the world of imaging – most notably single-lens, single-exposure 3D data recording. The technology has been available for commercial and academic uses since 2011, when Raytrix announced their first commercial plenoptic camera.
With the introduction of Lytro’s LightField Camera in early 2012, there appeared a second option for LightField enthusiasts. Though less precise, the camera is significantly cheaper than its commercial counterpart, and so scientists have tried to use the consumer camera for their own scientific purposes.
Now, a team of physicists from Hungary have worked out a method to use the Lytro LightField Camera for three-dimensional imaging of microparticles in a small plasma cloud. Continue reading
Not too long ago, the possibility to create LightField pictures with a mass-produced consumer camera sounded like dreams of the future. This was only the first step, though, and we’re looking forward to other popular imaging techniques (e.g. HDR and panorama imaging) to be augmented by LightField technology.
In a publication from 2012, computer scientists Clemens Birklbauer and Oliver Bimber from Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria presented a first approach towards creating Panorama LightField Images.