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Novel 3D camera with 180° opening angle

Mar 23, 2020 | Allgemein, Topstory

The 3D camera technology HemiStereo enables for the first time a hemispherical depth detection. The entire half space in front of the camera is measured three-dimensionally, which corresponds to an opening angle of 180x180° (HxV).

In comparison, 3D area scan cameras available up to now have very limited viewing angles of a maximum of about 110×70°. This increase is achieved by extending conventional stereo vision technology. Three image sensors, special fisheye lenses and, above all, a new, real-time-capable calculation method for stereo correspondence remove the limitations of conventional, perspective-imaging 3D cameras. 3dvisionlabs also integrates AI processors directly into the camera. With the help of AI, the data can also be evaluated on-site and in real time in a compact edge computing device. With this intelligent depth camera technology, numerous applications are created in the retail, public safety and smart home sectors, but also in industry, e.g. for robot navigation and autonomous driving.

Analysis of interiors

Smart cameras are already used for many people analysis tasks, such as people counting at shop entrances or for visitor flow analysis in museums. Whether in public buildings, retail stores or private environments, people’s living spaces are often complex. Many innovative solutions cannot be offered yet, because the analysis with cameras was only possible by using very many devices. HemiStereo enables for the first time the real-time measurement of a hemispheric field of view (180°x180°) with only one single 3D sensor. This offers significant advantages for automatic indoor analysis tasks. When installed on the ceiling of a room, areas up to 10x10m per sensor can be measured, even with very low ceiling heights of 2 to 3m. In applications with small to medium-sized indoor spaces, such as building automation, one sensor per room is sufficient to detect e.g. movement of people, gestures and postures or even emergency events such as falls. The latter is of particular interest for the growing sector of assistance systems for elderly people. In applications with extensive indoor spaces, e.g. in retail stores or public buildings, the high detection range of hemispheric technology can minimize the number of sensors required. This lowers installation costs and reduces the requirements for data fusion and network infrastructure.

Alternative to Lidar

Currently, the use of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) as well as mobile and stationary robotics is continuously increasing. Due to the increased demand for human-robot collaboration (HRC), workers and robots are increasingly moving closer together, which further increases the requirements for sensors for environment recognition. Laser scanners are the main application here. However, the high robustness, range and reliability of such systems is accompanied by the disadvantage of a 2D scan room. For example, it is possible that an AGV collides with a forklift truck because its transport fork is outside the measuring plane of the sensor. A 3D camera system can provide additional security here by providing more detailed information, but due to their limited viewing areas, conventional systems have not been an adequate complement to laser scanners until now. HemiStereo, on the other hand, provides the necessary data to enable FTF navigation and environment detection in MRK applications due to its horizontal measuring range of 180°. The real-time capability of the sensor with 30 full frames per second as well as a dynamically configurable field of view allow the detection of objects which are located in the protection or working area. Thus, they considerably extend the possibilities of a laser scanner. In the intelligent factory of tomorrow, the focus will be on understanding the environment as well as detecting it. By integrating powerful AI data processing into the camera, the robot will be able to classify objects or recognize people. Machine learning methods are used for this purpose. A special panoramic projection allows customers to use existing algorithms for image evaluation, which were developed for conventional cameras.

Prospects

The HemiStereo camera is currently available as a developer kit from the online shop of 3dvisionlabs. It is primarily aimed at companies and research institutions working on products, e.g. in the area of cashless shops or automatic security solutions. A version optimised for series production is also available on request and will be adapted to specific customer requirements. An industrial version of the camera for use in the navigation of industrial robots is currently being developed and will be presented in autumn.

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