Real-Time Computational Gigapixel Multi-Camera Systems

The standard cameras are designed to truthfully mimic the human eye and the visual system. In recent years, commercially available cameras are becoming more complex, and offer higher image resolutions than ever before. However, the quality of conventional imaging methods is limited by several parameters, such as the pixel size, lens system, the diffraction limit, etc. The rapid technological advancements, increase in the available computing power, and introduction of Graphics Processing Units (GPU) and Field-Programmable-Gate-Arrays (FPGA) open new possibilities in the computer vision and computer graphics communities. The researchers are now focusing on utilizing the immense computational power offered on the modern processing platforms, to create imaging systems with novel or significantly enhanced capabilities compared to the standard ones. One popular type of the computational imaging systems offering new possibilities is a multi-camera system. This thesis will focus on FPGA-based multi-camera systems that operate in real-time. The aim of themulti-camera systems presented in this thesis is to offer a wide field-of-view (FOV) video coverage at high frame rates. The wide FOV is achieved by constructing a panoramic image from the images acquired by the multi-camera system. Two new real-time computational imaging systems that provide new functionalities and better performance compared to conventional cameras are presented in this thesis. Each camera system design and implementation are analyzed in detail, built and tested in real-time conditions. Panoptic is a miniaturized low-cost multi-camera system that reconstructs a 360 degrees view in real-time. Since it is an easily portable system, it provides means to capture the complete surrounding light field in dynamic environment, such as when mounted on a vehicle or a flying drone. The second presented system, GigaEye II , is a modular high-resolution imaging system that introduces the concept of distributed image processing in the real-time camera systems. This thesis explains in detail howsuch concept can be efficiently used in real-time computational imaging systems. The purpose of computational imaging systems in the form of multi-camera systems does not end with real-time panoramas. The application scope of these cameras is vast. They can be used in 3D cinematography, for broadcasting live events, or for immersive telepresence experience. The final chapter of this thesis presents three potential applications of these systems: object detection and tracking, high dynamic range (HDR) imaging, and observation of multiple regions of interest. Object detection and tracking, and observation of multiple regions of interest are extremely useful and desired capabilities of surveillance systems, in security and defense industry, or in the fast-growing industry of autonomous vehicles. On the other hand, high dynamic range imaging is becoming a common option in the consumer market cameras, and the presented method allows instantaneous capture of HDR videos. Finally, this thesis concludes with the discussion of the real-time multi-camera systems, their advantages, their limitations, and the future predictions.

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