Video camera promises perfect focus everywhere

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A new video camera is under development that's claimed to be able to focus on both near-field and distant objects simultaneously.

Developed by the University of Toronto and Wilkes Associates, a Canadian high-tech product development company, the Omni-focus Video Camera is based on an entirely new distance-mapping principle.

"The intensity of a point source decays with the inverse square of the distance of propagation. This variation with distance has proven to be large enough to provide depth mapping with high resolution," says inventor Professor Keigo Iizuka of the university.

"What's more, by using two point sources at different locations, the distance of the object can be determined without the influence of its surface texture."

The camera contains an array of color video cameras, each focused at a different distance, and an integrated Divcam - a proprietary deveice which maps distance information for every pixel in the scene in real time.

A software-based pixel correspondence utility then uses the distance information to select individual pixels from the ensemble of outputs of the color video cameras, and generates the final 'omni-focused' single-video image.

"The Omni-focus Video Camera's unique ability to achieve simultaneous focus of all of the objects in a scene, near or far, multiple or single, without the usual physical movement of the camera's optics, represents a true advancement that is further distinguished in terms of high-resolution, distance mapping, real-time operation, simplicity, compactness, lightweight portability and a projected low manufacturing cost," says co-developer Dr David Wilkes, president of Wilkes Associates.

The developers see applications in medicine, as well as TV studio cameras.