Inventor and
principal investigator of the Omni-focus video camera, Professor Keigo Iizuka
of The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
explains that, the intensity of a point source decays with the inverse square
of the distance of propagation.

“This variation
with distance has proven to be large enough to provide depth mapping with high
resolution,” he explains. “What’s more, by using two point sources at different
locations, the distance of the object can be determined without the influence
of its surface texture.”

This principle
led Professor Iizuka to invent a novel distance-mapping camera, the
Divergence-ratio Axi-vision Camera, abbreviated “Divcam,” which is a
key component of the new Omni-focus Video Camera. The Omni-focus Video Camera
is produced in collaboration with consulting investigator Dr. David Wilkes,
president of Wilkes Associates, a Canadian high-tech product development
company. It contains an array of color video cameras, each focused at a
different distance, and an integrated Divcam.

The Divcam maps
distance information for every pixel in the scene in real time. A
software-based pixel correspondence utility, using prior intellectual property
invented by Dr. Wilkes, then uses the distance information to select individual
pixels from the ensemble of outputs of the color video cameras, and generates
the final “omni-focused” single-video image.

“The
Omni-focus Video Camera’s unique ability to achieve simultaneous focus of all
of the objects in a scene, near or far, multiple or single, without the usual
physical movement of the camera’s optics, represents a true advancement that is
further distinguished in terms of high-resolution, distance mapping, real-time
operation, simplicity, compactness, lightweight portability and a projected low
manufacturing cost,” says Dr. Wilkes.

The camera is
still in the research phase. But it’s not difficult to imagine how far-reaching
an impact the Omni-focus Video Camera could have. In video surveillance
applications an Omni-focus lens would allow a much larger depth of field and
when combined with image sensors of several megapixels could give face
recognition capability deep into scenes.

Another advantage
would be that the lens might facilitate more effective face and object
recognition in scenes where varying depths of field have in the past created
insurmountable difficulties.