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Scientists Propose Kinect-like 3D Camera for Cellphones

By - Source: MIT | B 13 comments

Gesture recognition is widely seen as a technology that could succeed touch input on a variety of computing devices, but the only successful mainstream device we have seen in this area is Microsoft's Kinect.

Kinect is paving the way, but has a number of shortcomings, including the substantial size and weight of its hardware. However, scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) believe they had found a way to build a 3D camera that is smaller in size and much more capable in its feature set.

"3-D acquisition has become a really hot topic," said Vivek Goyal, associate professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT’s Research Lab of Electronics. "In consumer electronics, people are very interested in 3D for immersive communication, but then they’re also interested in 3D for human-computer interaction." Goyal promises a camera that "provides more-accurate depth information than the Kinect, has a greater range and works under all lighting conditions — but is so small, cheap and power-efficient that it could be incorporated into a cell phone at very little extra cost."

MIT 3D Camera

MIT's camera uses what is referred to as "time of flight" of light particles to determine the depth of field: An infrared laser is emitted and a camera measures the time it takes the light to return from objects at different distances. However, instead of employing multiple sensors, the MIT system has only one detector - a one-pixel camera.

The scientists said that "clever mathematical tricks" allow them to calculate an entire scene by firing the laser a "limited number of times." There are no special requirements for expensive hardware as a "cheap" photo-detector and "ordinary" analog-to-digital converter as well as current smartphone processors are enough to enable the 3D camera feature.

There is no information when the camera system might make its way into commercial products, but MIT said that Qualcomm has chosen the project for its 2011 Innovation Fellowship program and provided a $100,000 grant.

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  • 5 Hide
    freggo , January 9, 2012 9:31 AM
    Now that is something worth a patent !
  • 1 Hide
    drwho1 , January 9, 2012 11:46 AM
    "Scientists Propose Kinect-like 3D Camera for Cellphones"

    first thing that comes to mind are a lot of 3D middle finger pictures.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , January 9, 2012 12:40 PM
    It sounds cool.
  • Display all 13 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , January 9, 2012 1:03 PM
    drwho1"Scientists Propose Kinect-like 3D Camera for Cellphones"first thing that comes to mind are a lot of 3D middle finger pictures.LOL

    no, i thought down the barrel of a gun, or a fist coming at you.
  • 7 Hide
    vertigo_2000 , January 9, 2012 1:10 PM
    Sexting is about to get a whole lot creepier.
  • -1 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , January 9, 2012 5:10 PM
    It's about time. I thought of this months ago.
  • 0 Hide
    snowzsan , January 9, 2012 6:10 PM
    Queue angry fanboys holding PS3 Move controllers.

    "It's Potter Time!"
  • 0 Hide
    soundping , January 9, 2012 8:59 PM
    vertigo_2000Sexting is about to get a whole lot creepier.

    People will think their getting a hotdog commercial.
  • 1 Hide
    dalauder , January 9, 2012 9:34 PM
    3D without multiple cameras? I like that.

    I was getting the feeling they were gonna start making phones with four cameras--two cameras for 3D in each direction, which is getting really stupid sounding.
  • 0 Hide
    snowzsan , January 9, 2012 9:42 PM
    soundpingPeople will think their getting a hotdog commercial.

    HAHAHA Aw gotta love that.
  • 0 Hide
    trandoanhung1991 , January 10, 2012 4:31 AM
    Infrared laser = no color. Am I wrong?
  • 0 Hide
    scuba dave , January 10, 2012 4:56 PM
    trandoanhung1991Infrared laser = no color. Am I wrong?

    With only one color, you wouldn't be able to figure out the exact colors of something, i believe. However, this isn't a technology to determine color, just depth. If you, basically, lay the picture over the depth information, the photo is 3D, without the need of another camera, or expensive hardware. Another method to do the same thing. I like this method however. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    bloc97 , January 16, 2012 8:37 PM
    lol we are going back to the b&w ages...