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back to article Lasers capture 3D images from a kilometre away

It sounds like a privacy advocate's worst nightmare: fire an infrared laser, scan the object, get its time-of-flight, and you can create a 3D imaging system that works at up to a kilometre distance. It's not a completely new idea, of course. It is, in fact, quite close to how we use airborne LIDAR to get high-resolution digital …

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Whilst it may work well for people standing in front of a perfectly flat wall, what happens if they are, as mentioned in the article, in "foliage"? or behind flyscreen? I imagine a system that gets a good reflection off clothing would also get some sort of reflection off fine mesh (although I'm happy to stand corrected). Also the dude's belt appears to be playing havoc with the reflections a bit, perhaps this is one occasion where a tinfoil hat may actually have a use?

The tech is extremely cool though.

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You get a return from each object in the path, most LIDAR systems will give you all the depth values or just first/last hit.

The difficult bit about using them at this range is that the beam is a foot across unless you are carrying optics the size of a truck to project it, it looks like their software is doing some clever surface reconstruction maths to get pixels that small so it will be confused by anything fuzzy - it probably also needs the target to stand very still to allow it to build up the map

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Privacy?

I don't see what it's got to do with privacy. Surely if you wanted to identify someone at a distance of 1km, you'd use a long-focus camera lens or a small telescope, not a million dollars worth of LIDAR equipment. To me this just looks like awesome technology.

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Why no shoes?

What's up with that?

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Re: Why no shoes?

Considering what's happening with the belt, I think it's because the shoes would have obscured the feet.

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Re: Why no shoes?

>Why no shoes? What's up with that?

Good question. I don't know, but I note that there are no metal zips, watches, spectacles or watch buckles visible on the subjects, either. Perhaps there was a risk lace eyelets on shoes upsetting the laser?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why no shoes?

Probably weren't reflective enough, hence the decision to use a nice shiny jacket for the "good" test, and a dull jumper for the "bad" test.

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Re: Why no shoes?

So how does iphone stand up against a samung galaxy in this? Which one reflects most? What ever the result i guarantee you the iphone wins :p

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Portability

Given the use of a superconducting super-cooled detector; not really one for black-ops yet.

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Coat

Looks like...

... The Stig could end up being targetted by this...!

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remote vegetation monitoring?

Yes; because those plants will just run away if you go near them to take a picture...

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New gap in the market for new range of stealth clothes

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>New gap in the market for new range of stealth clothes

[Insert picture of Kylie Minogue in her sequin dress] Though it might be more conspicuous in many scenarios.

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Trollface

Based on the lack of shoes and the messed up belt, it appears leather is the way to do. The faces and (mostly hidden) hands a quite poor to, so going naked might also be an option.

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Facepalm

I think you will find that Gerald Buller works at Heriot Watt University which while located on the outskirts of Edinburgh is distinctly not Edinburgh University which is another completely separate institution all together.

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Flame

What university are you saying? Edin-who? HERIOT WATT!

Er, when I was being taught by Gerald Buller, I wasn't at Edinburgh University, I was at Heriot-Watt University, and so was he!

(And he still is, according to http://www.eps.hw.ac.uk/institutes/photonics-quantum-sciences/gerald-buller.htm )

This system has been in development for decades. When I graduated in, er, 1998 they had a sub-millimetre accuracy demonstrator that was mind blowing as it took detailed pictures across the room, accurate in 3 dimensions.

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Headmaster

Re: What university are you saying? Edin-who? HERIOT WATT!

I got my PhD at "University of Edinburgh" and now work at "Heriot-Watt University". I have never heard of a Edinburgh University.

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Go

Re: What university are you saying? Edin-who? HERIOT WATT!

I attended Herriot Watt University, though it was only to watch my wife compete in a 100KM race which involved running around the Campus quite a few times. A very pleasant place, and IIRC the student bar was very welcoming :-)

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Pint

"Aim it at that human over there."

"Yep, it's a human."

Yawn...

Lasers bolted to aircraft have been penetrating Central American jungle canopies, and discovering long lost structures, for at least several years. This seems to be along the same lines, but higher resolution and without all those pesky leaves in the way.

Is this a High School project? Did he get an 'A'?

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Streetview 2.0

Looks like those painstakingly modelled 3D buildings are about to be made obsolete!

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Lena ...

... or it didn't happen.

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Reflectivity

I love how no one here seems to notice that black absorbs light and reflects utterly little, you'd probably be invisible on this thing if you were wearing black clothes, anything the camera would pick up (because there is of course no true black and far from good black clothing) could be called measurement error by the software / user, rendering you invisible ;)

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