Australian Researcher Develops 3D Vision Camera

Andrew Payne's research involves developing a full-field, time-of-flight range imaging system. It sounds like a mouthful, but it's really just a souped-up camera capable of measuring distance and generating 3D images. In the past distance has been measured electronically using a laser that generates a single spot. It measures the distance to that spot and moves to another spot and repeats the action to build up a picture. "Our system, rather than sending out a laser spot, lights up the entire area like a light-bulb and measures it all in one go," Mr Payne said. "It's very easy to measure one spot on a wall, but new technology now allows us to create something that can measure many points at once."

The camera works by sending out light (which travels at 300,000km/second) and measuring how long it takes to reflect back. From that you can work out how far away the object is. The machine Mr Payne has developed is quite large – about 30cms long – and is a normal digital video camera with other optical features added. Part of Mr Payne's post-doctoral work will be to reduce the size of the machine to that of a digital photographic camera as technology evolves.

Source: University of Waikato