Single-pixel power! UK scientists have found a way to make sophisticated 3D images without using the conventional digital cameras. Their system uses simple, cheap detectors which have just a single pixel to sense light instead of the millions of pixels used in the imaging sensors of digital cameras.
The technology developed by researchers from the University of Glasgow's school of physics and astronomy could be used to create much more affordable forms of 3D imaging in the future.
By using detectors capable of sensing frequencies beyond visible light, it could even open new possibilities in other fields including medicine and geography.
"Single-pixel detectors in four different locations are used to detect light from a data projector, which illuminates objects with a rapidly-shifting sequence of black-and-white patterns similar to crossword puzzles," professor Miles Padgett , lead researcher, said.
When more of the white squares of these patterns overlap with the object the intensity of the light reflected back to the detectors is higher. A series of projected patterns and the reflected intensities are used in a computer algorithm to produce a 2D image. Four detectors give images, each of which contain shadows , giving us clues about the 3D shape of the object. Combining the four images using a well-known technique known as 'shape from shade' allows us to create a full 3D image of the object," Padgett said.