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New Camera Designed By Stanford Researchers Could Improve Robot Vision and Virtual Reality

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The four-dimensional camera captures almost 140 degrees of information.

Assistant Professor Gordon Wetzstein, left, and postdoctoral research fellow Donald Dansereau with a prototype of the monocentric camera that captured the first single-lens panoramic light fields.

Credit: L.A. Cicero

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a four-dimensional (4D) camera that captures almost 140 degrees of information, with implications for robot visual perception and virtual reality.

Stanford professor Gordon Wetzstein and Donald Dansereau's prototype monocentric light-field camera could enable robots to collect varying perspectives in a single image, helping them navigate better.

"It's a convergence of algorithms and optics that's facilitating unprecedented imaging systems," Wetzstein says.

Light-field photography captures the same image as a conventional two-dimensional camera, while the addition of information about the direction and distance of the light striking the lens generates a 4D image.

The combination of a wide field of view, fine-grained depth information, and possible compactness are desired for imaging systems incorporated in wearables, robotics, autonomous vehicles, and augmented and virtual reality.

"This system could be helpful in any situation where you have limited space and you want the computer to understand the entire world around it," Wetzstein says.

From Stanford News
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