Journal of Electronic ImagingTrue three-dimensional camera
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An imager that can measure the distance from each pixel to the point on the object that is in focus at the pixel is described. This is accomplished by short photo-conducting lightguides at each pixel. In the eye the rods and cones are the fiber-like lightguides. The device uses ambient light that is only coherent in spherical shell-shaped light packets of thickness of one coherence length. Modern semiconductor technology permits the construction of lightguides shorter than a coherence length of ambient light. Each of the frequency components of the broad band light arriving at a pixel has a phase proportional to the distance from an object point to its image pixel. Light frequency components in the packet arriving at a pixel through a convex lens add constructively only if the light comes from the object point in focus at this pixel. The light in packets from all other object points cancels. Thus the pixel receives light from one object point only. The lightguide has contacts along its length. The lightguide charge carriers are generated by the light patterns. These light patterns, and thus the photocurrent, shift in response to the phase of the input signal. Thus, the photocurrent is a function of the distance from the pixel to its object point. Applications include autonomous vehicle navigation and robotic vision. Another application is a crude teleportation system consisting of a camera and a three-dimensional printer at a remote location.