Lightfield imaging systems were brought to market for consumer and professional media recording. But so far, this technology is less known for applications in the industrial space. The unique optical concept developed by K Lens allows to capture multiple perspectives of a scene with a single exposure as regular colour images on the camera sensor. The current design is tailored to capture 9 different perspectives. Effectively, such a lens turns any camera without any modification of the camera into a 3D camera. It even makes it possible to record 3D video and instantaneously view it in 3D. This technology has unique benefits specifically for applications requiring the inspection of small and deep structures. For example, capturing 3D information of small pins in electric plugs with high walls is possible with such an optical system. The optical concept can be adapted to different measurement volumes. An optimization routine has been developed to identify if there is a solution for a certain application and which performance parameter could be achieved. Two different types of depth estimation algorithms have been developed which utilize the multiple perspectives. While the optical flow based classical approach allows for manual optimization the machine learning (CNN-based) approach appears to be more robust.
The paper outlines the technical principles of the optical concept and points out application areas where such an optical concept has unique advantages. It also gives an indication of the achievable performance in terms of depth resolution based on a mathematical simulation model as well as from measurements using a first prototype. Some examples from real objects conclude the paper.
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Klaus Illgner, John Restrepo, Sunil Prasad Jaiswal, Ivo Ihrke, "Lightfield imaging for industrial applications," Proc. SPIE 11525, SPIE Future Sensing Technologies, 1152526 (8 November 2020); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2580328