APPLE INC. (Cupertino, CA)

A method for depth mapping involves projecting a pattern of optical radiation into a volume of interest that contains an object, and then altering an aspect of the pattern within the area of interest. Based on the optical radiation that is reflecting off an object as a result of the pattern an image of depth is created of the object.

A number of different methods and techniques are recognized in the art for making depth maps. The words “depth map” (and “3Dmap” in the patent application ) can be used interchangeably to mean a representation of a scene in two-dimensional pixels. Each pixel is associated with a specific location in the scene, and each pixel has a respective value which indicates the distance between the reference location and the actual location. The depth map is a type of image in which the values of the pixels indicate topographical information rather than the hue or brightness of objects in the scene.

Depth maps can be made, for example, by the detection and processing of images of an object over which the pattern is projected, like a laser speckle pattern as described in the PCT International Publication WO 2007/043036 A1, whose disclosure is included herein by reference. U.S. Patent Application Publication 08/0240502 provides a method for mapping objects by using an illumination assembly. It comprises an opaque that contains the pattern fixed with spots that projects the pattern onto an object. An image capture assembly captures images of the pattern that is projected onto an object. The image captured by the image capassembly is processed by a computer to create a 3D model of the object.

In reality, depth mapping systems (as with other imaging systems) are constrained by light intensity and optical resolution. The embodiments of the invention are described below and provide techniques that could be used to optimize these resources in order to enhance overall system performance.

In accordance with an embodiment of the invention there is a method of depth mapping. This involves providing resources for depth mapping that include an illumination module which project patternedoptical radiation into the volume of interest that contains the object and an image capture module that records patterns reflected by the object. The resources are utilized to create a depth map of the object. At the very least, one resource is applied non-uniformly across the volume of importance.

Some embodiments have the volume of interest having an incline that alters with angle relative to the image capture and illumination modules. This means that the most likely resource will be applied differently that is, it can change the application of at least one of the resources according to the angle’s different depth. In one embodiment disclosed the area of interest is the shape of a pentagonal, and has a vertex at the image capture module. Varying the application of the at the very least one of them in a non-uniform manner could involve angularly altering the intensity distribution of the patterns of the optical radiation produced by the illumination module. Additionally or alternatively, varying the application of the at least one of the resourcesnon-uniformly may include optically distorting the image captured by the image capture module.

The illumination module in the described embodiments is constructed to project a spatial pattern from the optical radiation on an object. In order to generate the depth map, it involves determining the depth coordinates of the object using shifting of the transverse in the spatial pattern.

In accordance with a different version of the invention there is a device to map depth. The apparatus comprises depth mapping resources, including an illumination module that projects the pattern of the optical radiation into a volume of interest that includes the object as well as an image capture module that detects the pattern that is reflected off of it. At least one of the resources is used non-uniformly over the volume of the object of interest. Aprocessor is used to process the image to create an image of depth.

In accordance with a different embodiment of the invention, there is also an apparatus to map depth. It includes an illumination module designed to project patterned optical radiation with a given patterndistortion into an area of interest containing an item. An image capture module comprises an objective optics and an image sensor. It is configured to produce an image of the pattern that is captured by the image sensor while applying optical distortion to the image to help compensate for at least part of the distortion of the pattern. The image is processed by a processor to create a depth map.

The disclosed embodiment includes an F-theta-lens as the objective optics. A radiation emitter is used to send the DOE to generate the patterned optical radiation.

The present invention can be better understood when viewed from the following detailed description of the embodiments thereof, taken together with the drawings that:

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