NEW YORK —
Isee3D, the Toronto-based developer of a single-lens solution for 3D cameras and camcorders, announced a number of industry specific updates and advances to its technology.
In town to demonstrate the improved capabilities, Shawn Veltman, ISee3D product manager, pointed out that in addition to offering a more elegant and potentially more cost-effective solution to adding high-quality 3D capture to cameras and camcorders than two-lens approaches, the company’s technology also has applications for the medical and industrial fields.
For consumer electronics, some of the chief benefits of the one-lens approach are easier zooming and more realistic 3D macro images.
“For macros with two lenses, unless you have the ability to do toeins with two lenses, your close-up range is effectively limited,” Veltman said. “With a single lens the toe-in’s not a problem. The 3D is tied to the focus, which affects different parts of the image.”
In zooming, two-lens systems run into a calibration and re-calibration issue, he said.
“You put the two lenses together, and you have to ensure that everything is perfectly aligned and level, and when you get any vertical misalignment, things start to hurt [the viewer] a lot,” he pointed out.
Manufacturers also have to ensure that both lenses are the exact same focal length, which upon zooming in and out can be a problem in consumer-level products, he added.
“None of that’s a problem with a single lens,” Veltman said.
The ISee3D technology works by occluding a portion of the lens, pushing the effective center of the lens over. So if the left half of the lens is occluded, the center if pushed over to the right, and if the right half is occluded, that center shifts to the left. The difference between the two viewpoints is called the inter-axial distance.
Several techniques can be employed for this, but for the most part, the ISee3D technology uses liquid crystal for the occlusion in a framesequential manner.
Recent advancements in the technology include dramatically reducing the thickness of the elements to fractions of a millimeter, making it possible to use the technology with a wider variety of lenses and reducing the space required. It is said to be ideal for equipping 3D on webcams, high magnification microscopes, endoscopes, 4k and 5k cameras and consumer camcorders, where space is at an absolute premium.
“We have moved the liquid crystal occlusion system from the front of the lens to an area much closer to the pupil, which allows us to work in much tighter areas,” Veltman told TWICE. “We also have a much wider family of lenses that we can work with and we’ve made some enhancements in capture in parallel rather than sequentially, in some applications, which is great for higher-speed video capture or in slowmotion where you need the frame rate.”
The company also has patents for technologies that enable the simultaneous capture of stereoscopic image pairs from a single lens to a single image sensor. This increases the range of available capture speeds, enabling both faster and slower frame rates.
ISee3D said the technology is ideal for devices including camcorders, webcams and mobile devices.
In other fields it can be used for industry in automotive driver support systems, including adaptive cruise control, braking assistance, blind-spot monitoring and air bag deployments. It also has applications for robotics, underwater exploration, and gas and oil exploration.
In broadcasting it enables real-time, natural 3D broadcast and smaller 3D cameras. In medical applications it enables a wider range of 3D endoscope sizes and a greater number of minimally invasive surgeries, including those performed by surgical robots.
Currently, ISee3D is working with DXG for forthcoming camcorder products and with Hamilton Thorne on medical research technologies. Veltman said ISee3D is in discussions with a number of other companies he couldn’t name for contractual reasons, including a large automobile manufacturer.
ISee3D, which is publicly traded on the Toronto exchange, licenses its patents to equipment manufactures and provides access to its engineers. It also derives a small royalty fee per unit produced.