360 camera impressive, but not 3D

Researchers in Switzerland have produced what some are touting as a true 3D camera. In reality, though, it’s “only” a camera that can simulate a 3D effect in a 360 degree panorama.

Traditional 3D imaging, known as stereoscopy, usually consists of taking two images of the same scene and then presenting them in a way that exploits how the brain processes the images seen by each eye. One limitation of this system is that the image itself can only show what the camera (simulating human vision) can see in one specific direction.

The Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne is now working on ways around this. Two semi-spherical models already developed use multiple lenses (15 in one model, 100+ on the other) to capture images, with the lenses set up to overlap their view just enough to make sure the data collected covers a full panorama.

The computer connected to the camera then uses the different lens views to calculate the distance to the various objects in the captured image (in the same way as human eyes and brains), with this information used to create the illusion in the output image.

According to Professor Pierre Vandergheynst, such cameras could be used at sporting or entertainment events to allow the viewer more choice about the angle they see events from, including the option to view from the perspective of an on-field or on-stage participant.

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