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MIT Develops Realistic 6-D Imaging System

The images, which have a full 3-D appearance, also react to their surrounding environments and can produce shadows and highlights.

W. David Gardner

August 13, 2008

2 Min Read

First there was 3-D, and now there is 6-D, or at least there's 6-D in a laboratory at MIT.

MIT associate professor Ramesh Raskar is explaining his work with 6-D images at this week's SIGGRAPH meeting in a presentation titled "Towards Passive 6-D Reflectance Field Displays."

The images, which have a full 3-D appearance, also react to their surrounding environments and can produce shadows and highlights, creating an imaging phenomenon he calls "6-D."

"The [image] prototypes physically implement a reflectance field and generate different light fields depending on the incident illumination, for example, light falling through a window," Raskar states in his presentation. "We discretize the incident light field using an optical system and modulate it with a 2-D pattern, creating a flat display. It is free from electronic components."

The system is based entirely on an arrangement of lenses and screens.

The 6-D system, as created and articulated by Raskar and some colleagues, utilizes an array of tiny square lenses -- and eschews linear lenses -- that create a visible set of vertical lines over the image. For example, the approach can simulate simple motion like cars moving along streets.

Are there commercial applications for the 6-D images?

Noting that the system is built by hand using custom parts, Raskar has said it likely will be at least 10 years before there can be "any realistic practical-sized displays." He added that the present laboratory version costs $30 a pixel and that thousands of pixels would be needed to create a recognizable image.

Someday, there could be a use for the 6-D displays in entertainment and advertising applications. Interviewed in MIT's Tech Talk university newspaper, Raskar added that a 6-D system could have motion picture and moving computer display applications in the distant future.

Collaborating with Raskar on the project were Martin Fuchs, Hans-Peter Seidel, and Hendrik Lensch, all of MPI Informatik.

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