10 technologies to watch in 2011
12/15/2010 1:01 AM EST
3-D optical metrology measures up
Output in 3-D from TVs, game consoles and mobile handsets will be joined by 3-D input in 2011. Called 3-D optical metrology, the technique projects stripes of light onto objects, then makes measurements of the distortions in the reflected light to deduce size and shape, thereby allowing real-world scenes to be input automatically to a 3-D model.
Generating accurate 3-D models traditionally requires either manual measurements or expensive, laser-based 3-D rangefinding systems. Now Texas Instruments and others are downsizing their microelectromechanical system-based picoprojectors to do the same job inexpensively using structured light illumination. SLI offers automated 3-D sensing by projecting matrices of light onto objects, the reflected distortions from which allow the objects' dimensions to be deduced automatically.
Applications range from 3-D video game development to fingerprint scanners that could identify people at a distance. Seikowave (Lexington, Ky.), for instance, is harnessing a specialized infrared MEMS picoprojector that brings SLI to medical diagnostics; the device can noninvasively monitor the rise and fall of the chest of a respiratory patient, for example, during medical testing.
Nvidia Corp. markets 3D Vision Pro and Quadro professional graphics solutions for immersive, realistic 3-D environments. Source: Nvidia.
— R. Colin Johnson