A 360 degree camera that sees in 3D (w/ Video)

December 1, 2010

Surround sight has come to the camera. Inspired by the eye of a fly, EPFL scientists have invented a camera that can take pictures and film in 360° and reconstruct the images in 3D.

It will be the ideal tool for videoconferences, video surveillance, movie making, and creating backgrounds for video games. Researchers from two EPFL laboratories have invented a revolutionary that can film everything around it, simultaneously and in real time, and then reproduce the images in three dimensions, distortion-free. A patent application has been filed.

The camera was inspired by the structure of a fly’s eye, and works without resorting to mirrors or mechanical parts of any kind. Over one hundred cameras, similar to those used in mobile phones, are crowded onto a metallic hemisphere the size of an orange. Because they are so close together, their range of vision overlaps slightly. A second, miniature prototype has also been developed. It’s about the size of a golf ball and has 15 cameras. The user can choose to have them all work together to obtain a panoramic image that covers a 360° range of vision, or individually to capture a particular point of view.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

The cameras were designed and built at EPFL in a collaboration between the Signal Processing Laboratory, led by Professor Pierre Vandergheynst, and the Microelectronic Systems Laboratory, led by Professor Yusuf Leblebici.

“With this invention, we solved two major problems with traditional cameras: the camera angle, which is no longer limited thanks to the camera’s ability to film in 360° and in real time; and the depth of field, which is no longer limiting thanks to the reconstruction,” explains Vandergheynst.

Vandergheynst’s lab wrote algorithms to calculate the distance between the camera and objects being filmed in order to do the 3D reconstruction, as well as the algorithms that assemble the images taken by all the different cameras into a single panoramic image. The Microelectronics Systems Laboratory developed the material and electronic apparatus that make it possible to collect and process the multi-gigabits of data that stream in at the rate of 30 images per second from the various cameras.

“The results that we have achieved to date have only been possible with the very close collaboration between our two groups, combining our expertise and managing the hardware design and algorithm/software design together. The outcome of this work is likely to change the entire field of image acquisition, with a huge range of potential applications,” adds Leblebici.

Explore further: Survey: cell cameras boost digital photos

Related Stories

Cell Phones Using Gesture Control (w/ Video)

April 29, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The next generation of cell phone interfaces is currently under development at Ishikawa Komuro Laboratory at the University of Tokyo but instead of using a touchscreen the new interface is touchless.

Driver drowsiness detected by Eyetracker

October 12, 2010

Car drivers must be able to react quickly to hazards on the road at all times. Dashboard-mounted cameras help keep drivers alert. At the VISION trade fair in Stuttgart, Germany, researchers are presenting this system from ...

Taking movies beyond Avatar -- for under $150 (w/ Video)

November 12, 2010

A new development in virtual cameras at the University of Abertay Dundee, UK, is developing the pioneering work of James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar using a Nintendo Wii-like motion controller – all for less than $150.

Laser-based camera can see around corners

November 17, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers from MIT have developed a camera that can capture images of a scene that is not in its direct line of sight. The camera is equipped with a femtosecond laser, which fires extremely short bursts ...

Recommended for you

Xbox gaming technology may improve X-ray precision

December 1, 2015

With the aim of producing high-quality X-rays with minimal radiation exposure, particularly in children, researchers have developed a new approach to imaging patients. Surprisingly, the new technology isn't a high-tech, high-dollar ...

Making 3-D imaging 1,000 times better

December 1, 2015

MIT researchers have shown that by exploiting the polarization of light—the physical phenomenon behind polarized sunglasses and most 3-D movie systems—they can increase the resolution of conventional 3-D imaging devices ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.