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The Potential of Light Fields — for imaging and beyond

Dec 12, 2011

Since the invention of the first camera, images always have been two-dimensional matrixes of pixels. Even though 3D scene points emit varying light rays in different directions, the lens and the sensor of cameras integrate them to a single pixel. By doing this for all imaged scene points, we end up with nothing else than a 2D image -- having lost most of the scene information. The same applies to many displays -- although in a dual way. Pixels of raster-displayed images emit (more or less) the same amount of light in all directions -- giving us nothing more than a 2D image.

What if the notion of images would change once and forever? What if instead of capturing, storing, processing and displaying only a single color per pixel, each pixel would consist of individual colors for each emitting direction? Images would no longer be two-dimensional matrices but four-dimensional ones (storing spatial information in two dimensions, and directional information in the other two dimensions). In electrical engineering, this four-dimensional structure is called photic field. In computer science, it is called light field.

Light fields have the potential to radically change everything that we relate to images -- from photography, over displays to image processing and analysis. While first light-fields display prototypes have already been introduced in scientific communities and first light-field cameras are already commercially available, many unsolved challenges remain in the processing of light fields. While common digital images store mega-bytes of data, corresponding light fields might require gigabytes.

In this talk, I will give an introduction to light-field imaging and processing, will summarize our current research activities along these lines, and outline the potential of light fields for AR/MR.

Univ. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Oliver Bimber
Institute of Computer Graphics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria

download the lecture presentation

Event Location

TU Vienna Vienna
Austria