Monday, January 30, 2012

An alternative to laser triangulation

It seems like everyone wants to do 3D imaging, and for most the method of choice is laser triangulation. It’s relatively simple to implement, the processing doesn’t need a supercomputer, and it needn’t cost a fortune, but it does require some relative motion between laser line and object under inspection.
Enter Time-of-Flight imaging. The basic concept has been around a long time; I think Canesta (subsequently acquired by Microsoft,) was one of the first companies to demonstrate a ToF sensor and Fotonic still seems to be in the market, but it hasn’t got the airtime given to laser-based methods.
Odos Imaging ltd of Scotland is out to put that right. They’ve launched a “unique 2D+3D™” camera that, as their description implies, captures both a conventional grayscale image AND distance information for each pixel of the image.
If you visit their website you’ll see some images that show what the camera can do. The reason this interests me is that it eliminates the need to scan a surface: there is no need for relative motion. I see this being especially useful in autonomous navigation applications, which is an aspect of machine vision with growth potential.
No word on pricing, but I’m looking forward to reading the first application story in Vision Systems Design.


Anonymous said...

Mesa Imaging has had their SwissRanger 4000 out for a while, recently they did a big price drop:

Ivo said...

PMD also has got some ToF cameras in their brochure.

The grey scale images you see are not general grey scale images, but they represent the relfectiveness of the subject. [to get a little bit technical, it represents the amplitude of the reflected signal]