Tiny 3-D cameras can go where other cameras reach end of tether

Other News Materials 5 May 2008 08:10 (UTC +04:00)

A new generation of tiny, cordless 3-D cameras can go places where today's tethered cameras cannot reach, according to a team of German scientists, the dpa reported.

Nowadays, cameras employed for deep-sea research or earthquake rubble rescue work are restricted by cables which tend to snag on debris.

But scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena, Germany, have unveiled revolutionary new dual-lens cameras the size of a cereal box weighing only one kilo (about two pounds) and able to radio 3-D images back to a central base.

Traditional systems use many heavy optical components which are expensive to manufacture and send back images that take over an hour to measure.

For Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH, this was reason enough to develop a new measuring system for the expensive lenses in a collaborative project with the Fraunhofer researchers and IVB GmbH, a small local company. The result is the LensShape 3-D measuring system, which renders the manufacturing process faster and more cost-effective.

"It consists of two cameras with a projector in the centre," said Gunther Notni, chief of Fraunhofer Institute's optics department.

"The two cameras provide a three-dimensional view, rather like two eyes. The projector casts a pattern of stripes on the objects. The geometry of the measured object can be deduced from the deformation of the stripes."

The optical 3-D scan system enables scientists to increase the speed significantly: The measuring process now takes a mere 15 minutes.

There are other advantages, too: Since the surface is not touched by a scanner, scratches are avoided and the process can immediately be corrected with the aid of the data obtained. Notni explains the benefits of the new method:

"While Carl Zeiss GmbH requires the version that measures up to 300 millimetres, we can also measure smaller lens systems down to less than 10 millimetres," states Notni, explaining the potential that this new measuring method offers.

Another well-known optics manufacturer is currently testing the technology with a view to measuring particularly small lens systems for tapping light from LEDs. IVB GmbH began marketing the new method several months ago.