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U Toronto Develops Technology for Omni-Focus Video Camera

A professor at the University of Toronto has created a distance-mapping video camera that can provide simultaneous focus of both near and far objects in high resolution. Keigo Iizuka, in the department of electrical and computer engineering, has designed a camera based on a new distance-mapping principle. The university said it expects the development to have applications in manufacturing, medicine, defense, security, and the consumer video market.

The principle goes like this, according to Iizuka: "The intensity of a point source decays with the inverse square of the distance of propagation." That variation, he said, is large enough to "provide depth mapping with high resolution. What's more, by using two point sources at different locations, the distance of the object can be determined without the influence of its surface texture." This principle led Iizuka to invent his distance-mapping camera, the Divergence-ratio Axi-vision Camera, abbreviated "Divcam."

Iizuka has collaborated with a Canadian product development company, Wilkes Associates, to build an omni-focus video camera. The camera contains an array of color video cameras, each focused at a different distance, as well as a Divcam to map distance information for every pixel in the scene. A software-based pixel correspondence utility developed by Wilkes uses the distance information to select individual pixels from the collection of outputs to generate a single video image.

The camera is still in the research phase, but Iizuka said he sees several applications. For example, music concerts could show both a singer in the foreground and band members in the background in equal focus. And in medicine, doctors performing laparoscopic surgery could see the entire view of the abdominal organs being operated on.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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