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Omni-focus technology set to bring video camera revolution

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May 6, 2010

The Omni-focus video camera offers simultaneous, real-time, near and far field focus capab...

The Omni-focus video camera offers simultaneous, real-time, near and far field focus capabilities

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Imagine viewing concert footage where the foreground vocalist is in the same sharp focus as the background musicians. With the simultaneous, real-time, near and far field focus capabilities offered by the Omni-focus video camera developed by Professor Keigo Iizuka, such a thing may not be too far off. Using a new distance mapping principle, an array of video cameras and some clever software the technique brings objects at varying distances into high resolution sharp focus.

Professor Keigo Iizuka of The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto developed the novel distance mapping principle after realizing that "the intensity of a point source decays with the inverse square of the distance of propagation." Taking this further, Professor Iizuka found that the "variation with distance has proven to be 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, in turn, led to the creation of the Divergence Ratio Axi-Vision Camera or DivCam, which uses the decay rate of illuminating light as a yardstick for three dimensional distance mapping of one or more target objects. The DivCam has an illuminating infrared LED in front of the camera and one behind. The camera snaps one shot using each LED, which are identical except for their optical density. Using a pixel by pixel approach, the difference between the two images is used to calculate distance.

The Divergence Ratio Axi-Vision Camera or DivCam principle

Multiple focus points

Iizuka then integrated the DivCam with an array of video cameras each set to focus at different distances. Each pixel from the scene was mapped using information from the DivCam and then merged with the video camera output with software developed by Dr. David Wilkes of Wilkes Associates. The result was a final "omni-focused" single-video image. Using a two camera array, a distant and near object are brought into simultaneous focus, with the final output being so sharp that the near object fingerprints can be seen.

Dr. Wilkes said of the development: "The Omni-focus Video Camera's unique ability to achieve simultaneous focus of all of the objects in a scene, near or far, multiple or single, without the usual physical movement of the camera's optics, represents a true advancement that is further distinguished in terms of high-resolution, distance mapping, real-time operation, simplicity, compactness, lightweight portability and a projected low manufacturing cost."

Still in the research phase, further refinements could see the technology making its way into broadcast television removing current limitations which restrict focus to either the foreground or background at any one time. Professor Iizuka also sees potential medical applications: "I'd like to apply the principle of the Omni-focus Video Camera to the design of a laparoscope. It would help doctors at the operating table, if they can see the entire view without touching optics of the laparoscope, especially if dealing with a large lesion."

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
5 Comments

I'm sure there is already a lens that can focus from say 1" to infinity. Sometimes one wishes to use differential focus to accentuate the subject, so this new system would need to capable of being switched off if not required.

windykites1
7th May, 2010 @ 07:24 am PDT

This is nothing new. This kind of focus on background and foreground simultaneously is called deep focus or high depth of field, and is available on all cameras. Wide-angle lenses and a high f-stop will increase this effect. Kelly

Facebook User
7th May, 2010 @ 08:29 am PDT

This could also apply to gambling casino technologies, as many of them have a difficult task of focusing in on various objects on gaming tables, etc.

Crazyeyes
7th May, 2010 @ 09:16 am PDT

wouldn't it just be simpler to just stop the aperture down thereby increasing the depth of field? Kinda like the brownie cameras from the 1800's?

Any good camera operator knows this...and the ability to use this functionality differentiates the weekend point-and-shooter from the pro-sumer!

Ed
7th May, 2010 @ 03:21 pm PDT

I think you need to completely believe in your product first of all and believe the its the best in all. Then for sure you come across to your readers with full determination and confidence on your HGTV skills. However, this is good stuff. Keep it up!

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New Technology

Facebook User
7th June, 2010 @ 12:52 am PDT
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