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Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory have recently invented a process for extracting 3D data from one or multiple 2D images. The patented technology is available via patent license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.
Monocular images, such as previously recorded photographs, are analyzed with a new process from ARL allowing 3D information to be extracted from an image even if it was recorded at a previous time with no intention of extracting any 3D characterization. The information extracted does not have to be real-time, as in some computer-vision applications of photometry.
For this technique, a bandpass optical filter is used for image decomposition to form several component images. Each of the component images obtained from the original raw monocular image corresponds to wavelength distribution associated with the passed bandwidth of the optical filter. These component images are used to calculate an optical flow field – a field in which each point is assigned a two-dimensional vector representing the optical flow. Optical flow analysis yields a surface profile for a group of the monocular component images that vary wavelength distribution. A 3D image is then constructed using both the mean of the series of component images and the surface depth profile. Image decomposition may also be performed with successive monochromatic wavelength sources such as individual laser lines to yield monochromatic component images.
Applications include agricultural forecasting, environmental monitoring, forensics, intelligence gathering, object detection (including detection of camouflaged objects using 3D data), target acquisition, remote mapping, and the like. For example, archived 2D color images, made with a monocular camera and other equipment not intended for map making, can be used to determine three-dimensional information about the terrain. Photometric stereo approaches can be used at large object distances, such as those distances above which binocular stereo can be used with conventional equipment.
- 3D information about an object from existing 2D images, such as photographic prints, without the need to return to a given viewpoint to obtain further information
- Businesses can commercialize the technology by licensing U.S. Patent 8,149,268 from the Army
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