Sparse aperture 3D passive image sensing and recognition

Date of Completion

January 2010


Engineering, Electronics and Electrical|Physics, Optics




The way we perceive, capture, store, communicate and visualize the world has greatly changed in the past century Novel three dimensional (3D) imaging and display systems are being pursued both in academic and industrial settings. In many cases, these systems have revolutionized traditional approaches and/or enabled new technologies in other disciplines including medical imaging and diagnostics, industrial metrology, entertainment, robotics as well as defense and security. ^ In this dissertation, we focus on novel aspects of sparse aperture multi-view imaging systems and their application in quantum-limited object recognition in two separate parts. In the first part, two concepts are proposed. First a solution is presented that involves a generalized framework for 3D imaging using randomly distributed sparse apertures. Second, a method is suggested to extract the profile of objects in the scene through statistical properties of the reconstructed light field. In both cases, experimental results are presented that demonstrate the feasibility of the techniques. ^ In the second part, the application of 3D imaging systems in sensing and recognition of objects is addressed. In particular, we focus on the scenario in which only 10s of photons reach the sensor from the object of interest, as opposed to hundreds of billions of photons in normal imaging conditions. At this level, the quantum limited behavior of light will dominate and traditional object recognition practices may fail. We suggest a likelihood based object recognition framework that incorporates the physics of sensing at quantum-limited conditions. Sensor dark noise has been modeled and taken into account. This framework is applied to 3D sensing of thermal objects using visible spectrum detectors. Thermal objects as cold as 250K are shown to provide enough signature photons to be sensed and recognized within background and dark noise with mature, visible band, image forming optics and detector arrays. The results suggest that one might not need to venture into exotic and expensive detector arrays and associated optics for sensing room-temperature thermal objects in complete darkness. ^