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US vision tech lab to develop all-round viewing HD video camera

12 November 2014

The Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago has been awarded a $3 million grant to develop an extraordinary new camera.

SENSEI camera arrangement of 50 pairs of current HDTV 5-mpixel, 1080p sensors (illustration: Greg Dawe/UCSD)

The proposed camera is an array of dozens of high-definition video cameras that can capture images across an all-round, 360 degree field in three dimensions.

The SENSEI (Sensor Environment Imaging) instrument will capture the the whole sphere of the surrounding environment, in stereo, with calibrated depth, providing information of how far away objects are and allowing estimates of their size and mass. The video image will show true colours and brightness.

The Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) has worked before with multiple images to create a single complete 360-degree panoramic image, making it possible to explore Medinet Habu - the mortuary temple of Ramses III, located on the west bank of Luxor in Egypt - in the projected virtual reality of the CAVE2.

A successful prototype will require that the developers engineer configurable, portable, sensor-based camera systems capable of handling a huge amount of data, displays for viewing the 3D stereoscopic images, and network systems that allow collaboration. In addition, SENSEI will need hardware scaffolding for its sensor arrays, data acquisition and computing platforms, telemetry and communications, and software.

Those interested in this technology include oceanographers interested in studying coral reefs and kelp forests; computer scientists viewing social networking in animals; astronomers looking at the night sky from a high-altitude balloon and telescopes around the world; archaeologists opening a window on cultural heritage; and public health experts working on emergency preparedness.

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