The objectives of DISTIMA are to prove the usefulness of stereoscopic TV in several applications (TV processing, medical imaging, quality control and remote handling); to demonstrate the possibility of transmitting such sequences via an ATM network; and to develop powerful new algorithms for the analysis, coding, decoding and transmission of stereoscopic sequences.
The objective of the research were:
to prove the usefulness of stereoscopic television (TV) in several applications (TV processing, medical imaging, quality control and remote handling);
to demonstrate the possibility of transmitting such sequences via an asynchronous (ATM) network;
to develop powerful new algorithms for the analysis, coding, decoding and transmission of stereoscopic sequences.
Key issues in the research were:
the transmission of stereoscopic sequences over integrated broadband communications (IBC) that are compatible with is TV;
the improvement of different applications through the use of 3-dimensional TV.
Several preliminary results have been achieved in the area of human factors:
minimum screen size;
disparity cutoff frequencies, binocular masking.
The currently defined moving picture expert group (MPEG-2) test model 2 serves as the basis for the stereoscopic coder decoder (codec). The left channel is coded independently of the right channel in order to guarantee backward compatibility with MPEG encoded monoscopic video signals. The right channel is coded using a combined motion and disparity based prediction. A number of block based disparity estimation algorithms have been implemented and evaluated to support coding and applications. For second generation algorithms, motion estimation based on a model of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional objects was also examined. The initial design specifications for the camera and display have been completed.
Reflecting the objectives of the project, the technical approach divides into three main parts:
- Software development, including human factors, 3D-image-analysis, encoding/decoding schemes and transmission aspects.
- Hardware development, including camera, codec, display and test and evaluation.
Activities on human factors research will include investigations into optimum viewing conditions (viewing distance, screen size, etc), and also possible irrelevance reduction due to limitations of the human visual system (e.g. quantisation of disparities). Other work packages of the project will consider different algorithms for coding, taking the inter-relationship of two camera signals into account.
Special attention will be paid to source coding algorithms that are compatible with normal 2D TV, and that are realisable in real-time hardware. Disparity estimation is an especially important point in this context. This will be implemented to meet the requirements of a 2D compatible scheme, and hardware limitations. Activities on hardware development include building an automatic 3D TV camera, an LCD stereo display, a codec, the multiplexing/demultiplexing part for transmission over an IBC-channel and test and evaluation including field trials.
Using natural and computer simulated sequences the project will prove the usefulness of stereoscopic image processing in four different industrial applications.
- Transmission of stereoscopic sequences over IBC that are compatible with 2D TV.
- Improvement of different applications through the use of 3D TV.
The availability of an effective stereoscopic television system will enhance the usefulness of this media in several industrial applications, and therefore enhance the demand for image communication. The algorithms for retrieving stereo information will also influence other technologies of image analysis and synthesis.
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