Photometric Stereo Technique: 3D Machine Vision’s Next Frontier

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Microprocessors, GPUs, and FPGAs are all showing incremental increases in image processing power. But the emerging technique of photometric stereo may offer a more cost-effective solution for 3D vision applications.

Photometric stereo solutions need not know the exact 3D relationship between the camera and the object under test, nor do they require two cameras to capture 3D data. Instead, the technique relies on a single camera and multiple illumination sources to estimate the surface of an object by observing that object under different lighting conditions.

The amount of light reflected by a surface is dependent on the orientation of the surface in relation to the light source and the observer. Photometric stereo leverages this interaction to produce a contrast image that accentuates local 3D surface variations. This paper by Smart Vision Lights provides a primer on this machine vision technique and its benefits, followed by representative applications.

This white paper sponsored by Smart Vision Lights.