The penumbra that allows us see around corners

in #stemng2 years ago

Science and engineering in their never-ending quest continue to wow and intrigue with the invention and improvements of ways of doing things. The other day, I was browsing through the pages of the internet, and it was terrific to see the advances recorded over time from the robotic labs of the Boston Dynamics. The human-looking robot or humanoid robot, Atlas standing 1.5m and weighing 75kg can now easily jump on top of obstacles in a manner capable of impressing a parkour expert. While the robot's coordination may be a source of wonder, there is a team working on something that may equally rival that in the field of computer vision.



A computer graphics showing penumbr shadows. Image credits: By Wikipedia Commons from CVF Link]

A team of scientists from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology are now working on ways to see what lies ahead in the corner ushering in a new field of science less than a decade old; non-line-of-sight imaging. Which, in other words, is the science of deciphering what we may not naturally see without the aid of imaging technology such as that inherent in our camera.

The idea to begin such a daring quest started when one of the research team leaders, Antonio Torralba saw shadows on the wall of the hotel room when he was on vacation in Spain. A shadow which at first was a surprise as it apparently has no origin. However, on close observation, it was a shadow from one of the windows which inadvertently produced a pinhole camera effect of the activities outside the hotel.



A tripod with camera standing against a wall with images A and B not in view. Image credits: By OpenAccess Computer Vision Foundation from CVF Link]

The "camera" which was the hotel window enabled the vacationer to see the usually hidden objects. In much the same way we have the edges of walls and floors often act as a camera via its depiction of a partially shaded area as a result of shadow which an otherwise invisible object creates at the hidden view of the object.

For instance, imagine a camera directly placed against a wall. The red and blue objects, A and B respectively are obviously out of sight for the camera. However, if you look closely, you can see the subtle varying light disturbance or penumbra left on the floor by object A and B. If you follow the direction of the arrow, you will notice changes in the light gradient as you increase the angle of view.

The MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) researchers made up of Katherine L. Bouman, Vickie Ye, Adam B. Yedidia, Fredo Durand, Gregory W. Wornell, Antonio Torralba, and William T. Freeman are using computer algorithm to track these subtle changes that occur in the penumbra from objects hidden from view in real time making use of ordinary camera such as that found in our smartphone devices.

The information gleaned from the penumbra video which the team aptly nicknamed CornerCamera, the team's algorithm can create a one-dimentional (1-D) images obtained from the highly magnified subtle, floor's penumbra changes captured by the RGB cameras.

The information that this dynamic one-dimension image contains is enough to extract both the colour of the hidden object and identify the location and movement. This method is more compact, robust, and is far superior in that it can work in broad daylight, dust, and in the rain. The ability to work very well in these three conditions makes it superior to the more expensive laser systems which works by firing lasers, and calculating the time it takes for it to return and digitally "builds" a picture of the hidden object.



Automous vehicle. Image credits: By Wikipedia Commons from CVF Link]

The application for this technology is vast. It will be particularly useful in navigation in self-driven cars, search and rescue operation, remotely monitor occupants in a location; an issue I'm sure the military will love in tactical [rocucres. Also, apart from the self-driven vehicle, it will help reduce collision and blind spots when driving around corners. You can see the applications are vast and important. At the moment we can only wish the team well as they explore means


References

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Science is evolving
Every day new things are discovered
A really great article that has improved publication, my friend

It is a race with no end in sight. The idea is to keep innovating and looking at different ways of making things better.

Hey Green 😊

The information you bring us is always so surprising! As I read along your post I did think of how 'Vera' would benefit from this. And that was precisely how you ended your post! Discussing how this improve the efficiency of self-driven vehicles :)

I wish you an awesome week Green!

Vera would surely love this. With that in place, the highways would be much safer with Vera doing all the heavy lifting; pun intended :D

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Ahahahah Ahahahah

I need this technology well developed. We have super winding narrow roads here. Most hairpin bends are usually the center for accidents.

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I have seen documentaries about such roads. Although the one I have in mind was filmed in India. Just picturing the images of buses filled with people going around those bends makes me cringe! Similarly, of course, accidents are incredibly frequent over there :(

Wishing you a lovely Sunday evening :*

I think I saw some that is even more precarious. Slow winding road that is hacked out of a mountain. One mistake and you'd plunge to your death. The ones we have here may not be that bad, but it is scary just as much.

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Everyday by day new things keeps on coming out. I could imagine how this world could be in the next century. The rate at which things are discoverd has made a lot of changes in the world. Great post.

I agree with you :)

This is really amazing, this tech would be useful in various field as you've mentioned....really interesting article

It is a technology with versatile application.

Its some amazing science upgrades with time...gone are those days when we never knew we could fly by the aid of machines.
Sometimes I wonder how the sphere will look like in the next decade. Thanks for impacting to science.

The future will witness some legendary transformation and innovation.

This new invention or should i say discovery will go a long in saving lives at blind spot when incorporated to vehicles. But am sure it will be expensive. I gues extracting the image colour and identifying image location is going to be a great deal imo

They can currently do both- identify colour of the image and locate its position in real time.

Science wont stop amazing us, the sky is no longer a stepping stone but a bench mark. A comprehensive piece of work, nice one.

Indeed, the innovation is an endless quest for answers to a lot of problems.

Nice science fact @greenrun

Thank you :)

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Greenrun!!! Really missed reading your posts.. This is another insightful one...this invention will definitely helping in solving crime

It should :)
Good to see you.

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I upvoted your post.

Keep steeming for a better tomorrow.
@Acknowledgement - God Bless

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Thank you :)

Hi @greenrun!

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