Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




INTERNET SPACE
Picture-perfect
by Helen Knight for MIT News
Boston MA (SPX) Feb 26, 2013


This image shows a setup of a demonstration system that integrates the processor with DDR2 memory and connects with a camera and a display through the USB interface. The system provides a platform for live computational photography. Photo: Nathan Ickes.

Your smartphone snapshots could be instantly converted into professional-looking photographs with just the touch of a button, thanks to a processor chip developed at MIT.

The chip, built by a team at MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratory, can perform tasks such as creating more realistic or enhanced lighting in a shot without destroying the scene's ambience, in just a fraction of a second. The technology could be integrated with any smartphone, tablet computer or digital camera.

Existing computational photography systems tend to be software applications that are installed onto cameras and smartphones. However, such systems consume substantial power, take a considerable amount of time to run, and require a fair amount of knowledge on the part of the user, says the paper's lead author, Rahul Rithe, a graduate student in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

"We wanted to build a single chip that could perform multiple operations, consume significantly less power compared to doing the same job in software, and do it all in real time," Rithe says. He developed the chip with Anantha Chandrakasan, the Joseph F. and Nancy P. Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering, fellow graduate student Priyanka Raina, research scientist Nathan Ickes and undergraduate Srikanth Tenneti.

One such task, known as High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging, is designed to compensate for limitations on the range of brightness that can be recorded by existing digital cameras, to capture pictures that more accurately reflect the way we perceive the same scenes with our own eyes.

To do this, the chip's processor automatically takes three separate "low dynamic range" images with the camera: a normally exposed image, an overexposed image capturing details in the dark areas of the scene, and an underexposed image capturing details in the bright areas. It then merges them to create one image capturing the entire range of brightness in the scene, Rithe says.

Software-based systems typically take several seconds to perform this operation, while the chip can do it in a few hundred milliseconds on a 10-megapixel image. This means it is even fast enough to apply to video, Ickes says. The chip consumes dramatically less power than existing CPUs and GPUs while performing the operation, he adds.

Another task the chip can carry out is to enhance the lighting in a darkened scene more realistically than conventional flash photography. "Typically when taking pictures in a low-light situation, if we don't use flash on the camera we get images that are pretty dark and noisy, and if we do use the flash we get bright images but with harsh lighting, and the ambience created by the natural lighting in the room is lost," Rithe says.

So in this instance the processor takes two images, one with a flash and one without. It then splits both into a base layer, containing just the large-scale features within the shot, and a detailed layer. Finally, it merges the two images, preserving the natural ambience from the base layer of the nonflash shot, while extracting the details from the picture taken with the flash.

To remove unwanted features from the image, such as noise - the unexpected variations in color or brightness created by digital cameras - the system blurs any undesired pixel with its surrounding neighbors, so that it matches those around it. In conventional filtering, however, this means even those pixels at the edges of objects are also blurred, which results in a less detailed image.

But by using what is called a bilateral filter, the researchers are able to preserve these outlines, Rithe says. That is because bilateral filters will only blur pixels with their neighbors if they have been assigned a similar brightness value. Since any objects within the image are likely to have a very different level of brightness than that of their background, this prevents the system from blurring across any edges, he says.

To perform each of these tasks, the chip's processing unit uses a method of organizing and storing data called a bilateral grid. The image is first divided into smaller blocks. For each block, a histogram is then created. This results in a 3-D representation of the image, with the x and y axes representing the position of the block, and the brightness histogram representing the third dimension.

This makes it easy for the filter to avoid blurring across edges, since pixels with different brightness levels are separated in this third axis in the grid structure, no matter how close together they are in the image itself.

The algorithms implemented on the chip are inspired by the computational photography work of associate professor of computer science and engineering Fredo Durand and Bill Freeman, a professor of computer science and engineering in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. With the aid of Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer TSMC's University Shuttle Program, the researchers have already built a working prototype of the chip using 40-nanometer CMOS technology, and integrated it into a camera and display. They will be presenting their chip at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco in February. The work was funded by the Foxconn Technology Group, based in Taiwan.

.


Related Links
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Satellite-based Internet technologies






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





INTERNET SPACE
X-ray microscopy hits the sweet spot for chemical and elemental imaging
Berkeley CA (SPX) Feb 26, 2013
In perhaps no other scientific field does the adage "form follows function" hold more true than in biology, especially the biology of living cells, which is why our knowledge of cells starts with imaging. Optical microscopy is limited by low spatial resolution - about 200 nanometers, and electron microscopy is limited by the poor penetration of electrons and the requirement that it be perf ... read more


INTERNET SPACE
Water On The Moon: It's Been There All Along

Building a lunar base with 3D printing

US, Europe team up for moon fly-by

Russia to Launch Lunar Mission in 2015

INTERNET SPACE
Mars rover ingests rock powder for tests

Opportunity Is On A Rock Hunt

Big Nickel Rock Target Ahead

NASA Rover Confirms First Drilled Mars Rock Sample

INTERNET SPACE
Choreographed to Perfection

ATK Launch Abort Motor For First Orion Test Vehicle

Supersonic skydiver's records confirmed

Kennedy Engineers Designing Plant Habitat For ISS

INTERNET SPACE
Welcome Aboard Shenzhou 10

Reshuffle for Tiangong

China to launch 20 spacecrafts in 2013

Mr Xi in Space

INTERNET SPACE
Record Number of Students Control ISS Camera

NASA briefly loses contact with space station

Temporary Comm Loss Interrupts Crew's Day

Low-Gravity Flights Will Aid ISS Fluids and Combustion Experiments

INTERNET SPACE
SpaceX 2 Launch Set for March 1

NASA Releases Glory Taurus XL Launch Failure Report Summary

India's 102nd space mission lifts off successfully

Countdown begins for Indo-French satellite launch

INTERNET SPACE
NASA's Kepler Mission Discovers Tiny Planet System

Kepler helps astronomers find tiny exo planet

Searching for a Pale Blue SPHERE in the Universe

Earth-like planets are right next door

INTERNET SPACE
Tokyo hotel shrinks in new-style urban demolition

Fluids in Space, Shaken Not Stirred

The world's most sensitive plasmon resonance sensor inspired by ancient Roman cup

Sustainable new catalysts fueled by a single proton




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement