An electro-optical imaging device is capable of autonomously determining the range to objects in a scene without the use of active emitters or multiple apertures. The novel, automated, low-power imaging system is based on a plenoptic camera design that was constructed as a breadboard system. Nanohmics proved feasibility of the concept by designing an optical system for a prototype plenoptic camera, developing simulated plenoptic images and range-calculation algorithms, constructing a breadboard prototype plenoptic camera, and processing images (including range calculations) from the prototype system.

The breadboard demonstration included an optical subsystem comprised of a main aperture lens, a mechanical structure that holds an array of micro lenses at the focal distance from the main lens, and a structure that mates a CMOS imaging sensor the correct distance from the micro lenses. The demonstrator also featured embedded electronics for camera readout, and a post-processor executing image-processing algorithms to provide ranging information.

This work was done by Byron Zollars, Andrew Milder, and Michael Mayo of Nanohmics, Inc. for Glenn Research Center. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at under the Physical Sciences category.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steve Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-18525-1.

Imaging Technology Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2010 issue of Imaging Technology Magazine.

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