Infrared 3D scanner: Fast and accurate

Infrared 3D scanners have been used in video games for quite some time. Whereas in video games the scanners are, for example, only able to identify if a player throws his arms up in the air while playing virtual volleyball, the new 3D scanner of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF is able to be much more precise. With a resolution of one million pixels and real-time data processing, numerous applications are possible with this new device.

"The measuring technology works in a similar way to human vision. However, instead of two eyes we are using two near-infrared cameras," Stefan Heist from the Fraunhofer IOF explains. "In order to detect the object, we project a-periodic patterns onto the surface using a specially developed near-infrared projector." A sequence of different patterns is projected in rapid succession in order to record as many measurement points as possible by the two cameras. Within a few milliseconds, the software then calculates the 3D data from the images.

Well balanced overall package

Since infrared rays are invisible to the human eye the scanner measures the surface invisibly and, due to the numerous measurements points, with high accuracy. This makes it possible to create high-resolution 3D images of 1,000 x 1,000 pixels at 36 3D images per second. Combined with the shots of a color camera, colored 3D images are produced in premium quality. The system is able to creates images continuously without a break. This creates the impression of a moving 3D color image to the viewer. In comparison, old tube televisions showed 25 images per second, each image being doubled in order to reduce the disturbing flicker.

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