Enhancing the Visible with the Invisble: RGB plus Near-Infrared
Silicon-based digital camera sensors exhibit significant sensitivity beyond the visible spectrum (400-700nm). They are able to capture wavelengths up to 1100 nm, i.e., they are sensitive to near-infrared (NIR) radiation. This additional information is conventionally treated as noise and is absorbed by a NIR-blocking filter affixed to the sensor. Retaining instead of removing NIR information can significantly improve certain computational photography and computer vision tasks. Indeed, intrinsic properties of the NIR wavelength band guarantee that images can be sharper, less affected by man-made colorants, and more resilient to changing light conditions. Exploiting the inherent correlation and de-correlation of the different waveband images can lead to improved color rendering and object recognition.