A UK-government-funded research partnership has developed a novel range of three-dimensional (3-D) imaging applications, and a new company has been spun out that will take the technology to the marketplace in a range of application areas. Other companies within the partnership are planning to exploit the technology in their own areas.
In 1997, the UK government set up four Faraday Partnerships to provide a focus for industry links with a research base in specific technology areas. The 3D-MATIC group (3D Multimedia Applications and Technology Integration Centre), centered at the Department of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow, was set up to enable commercial companies to gain access to advanced 3-D digitization technology and its applications, with a view of bringing it into the marketplace. The project also aims to improve the technology in this field. It received an initial injection of £1 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (Swindon, England).
The key technology in the 3D-MATIC project is a form of photogrammetry. Two images taken from two slightly offset cameras are compared to develop 3-D images. Software development has focused on identifying the correlation between the image pair so they can be compared, generally by taking each pixel, looking at its neighbor and using the pattern to discover the corresponding point in the scene in the other picture. Having established the correlations, the software then looks for the differences: the greater the offset between the pixels representing the same point in the scene, the closer that point is to the position of the cameras.