We have implemented the spacetime analysis presented in the previous section using a commercial laser triangulation scanner and a real-time digital video recorder.
The optical triangulation system we use is a Cyberware MS platform scanner. This scanner collects range data by casting a laser stripe on the object and by observing reflections with a CCD camera positioned at an angle of with respect to the plane of the laser. The platform can either translate or rotate an object through the field of view of the triangulation optics. The laser width varies from 0.8 mm to 1.0 mm over the field of view which is approximately 30 cm in depth and 30 cm in height. Each CCD pixel images a portion of the laser plane roughly 0.5 mm by 0.5 mm. Although the Cyberware scanner performs a form of peak detection in real time, we require the actual video frames of the camera for our analysis. We capture these frames with an Abekas A20 video digitizer and an Abekas A60 digital video disk, a system that can acquire 486 by 720 size frames at 30 Hz. These captured frames have approximately the same resolution as the Cyberware range camera, though they represent a resampling of the reconstructed CCD output.
Using the principles of section 3, we can devise a procedure for extracting range data from spacetime images:
In step 2, we rotate the spacetime images so that Gaussians are vertically aligned. In a practical system with different sampling rates in x and z, the correct rotation angle can be computed as:
where is the new rotation angle, and are the sample spacing in x and z respectively, and is the triangulation angle. In order to determine the rotation angle, , for a given scanning rate and region of the field of view of our Cyberware scanner, we first determined the local triangulation angle and the sample spacings in depth (z) and lateral position (x). Equation 8 then yields the desired angle.
In step 3, we compute the statistics of the Gaussians along each rotated spacetime image raster. Our method of choice for computing these statistics is a least squares fit of a parabola to the log of the data. We have experimented with fitting the data directly to Gaussians using the Levenberg-Marquardt non-linear least squares algorithm , but the results have been substantially the same as the log-parabola fits. The Gaussian statistics consist of a mean, which corresponds to a range point, as well as a width and a peak amplitude, both of which indicate the reliability of the data. Widths that are far from the expected width and peak amplitudes near the noise floor of the sensor imply unreliable data which may be down-weighted or discarded during later processing (e.g., when combining multiple range meshes ). For the purposes of this paper, we discard unreliable data.
Finally, in step 4, we rotate the range points back into the global coordinate system.
Traditionally, researchers have extracted range data at sampling rates corresponding to one range point per sensor scanline per unit time. Interpolation of shape between range points has consisted of fitting primitives (e.g., linear interpolants like triangles) to the range points. Instead, we can regard the spacetime volume as the primary source of information we have about an object. After performing a real scan, we have a sampled representation of the spacetime volume, which we can then reconstruct to generate a continuous function. This function then acts as our range oracle, which we can query for range data at a sampling rate of our choosing. In practice, we can magnify the sampled spacetime volume prior to applying the range imaging steps described above. The result is a range grid with a higher sampling density based directly on the imaged light reflections.