You could be taking color pictures in the dark by the end of the year

Mar 07, 2011 by Katie Gatto weblog
Video screenshot. Credit: AIST

(PhysOrg.com) -- Any photographer will tell you that having good lighting is essential to the success of a shot. It is one of the most basic elements of composition, and hours can be spent on getting this one element right. Unless, that is, you buy your camera from The Nanosystem Research Division of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan, or AIST for short. They are showing off a camera that can take full color photos in the dark.

Night vision technology itself is nothing new. Anyone who has seen a James Bond movie is familiar with the black and green screen that is synonymous with the see-in-the-dark technology that is used by branches of the military around the world. What is new with this camera is the fact that the night vision will create a image similar to the ones you take on a standard during the day. It is also capable of taking color video.

The camera works something like this. After taking a scan of the room it uses a highly sensitive infrared technology to capture the surroundings and get a digital lay of the land. Once it has the image an advanced takes over the photo process. By analyzing the reflected wavelengths from objects of various colors, the camera takes a best guess at what color the item is, and fills that color into the image. The system seems to have a high degree of accuracy, but some minor issues with shade could occur.

The is expected to go on sale to the public by the end of 2011. No word has been give on price at this point, as the device still needs to be made small enough for hand use.

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User comments : 5

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soulman
2 / 5 (4) Mar 07, 2011
The camera works something like this. After taking a scan of the room it uses a highly sensitive infrared technology to capture the surroundings and get a digital lay of the land.

Does that mean it needs to first take visible light shot so that it can later map IR -> color? If so, then I see that as quite a limitation.
ODesign
not rated yet Mar 07, 2011
So this isn't a more sensitive CCD that can gather the scarce photons more efficiently? It sounds like it doesn't change the size of the lense required for a good lighting, it's more about an extreme compensation for a white balance. Still pretty cool, but it would be more cool if it were combined with the tech for focus free and small aperature light gathering.
antialias
not rated yet Mar 08, 2011
Does that mean it needs to first take visible light shot so that it can later map IR -> color?

Not quite. Different colored objects give off different amounts of IR under ambient temperature. So the camera does not need to have previous knowledge ofthe color of stuff in the room.

You can probably throw it off by having objects at different temperatures or, as the article says, by having areas of shade (which will occur naturally due to the directional nature of the IR source.
LivaN
not rated yet Mar 08, 2011
The camera works something like this. After taking a scan of the room it uses a highly sensitive infrared technology to capture the surroundings and get a digital lay of the land.

Does that mean it needs to first take visible light shot so that it can later map IR -> color? If so, then I see that as quite a limitation.


I believe it takes a scan of the area, while still dark, and then uses its algorithm to apply the most probable colour. No need view the area lit, unless you would want to compare images. Im sure once a correlation has been drawn between IR wavelengths of specifically coloured objects in the dark and their visible wavelengths while lit, it would be easy to create an advanced algorithm to then simply apply a filter to any IR image, and convert it its approximate visible colours.
Nikola
1 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2011
Meh.
Also: sort of misleading headline

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