Olympus is helping to develop a new imaging system designed to allow colour (RGB) and near-infrared (NIR) images to be captured using a single imaging sensor.

The move, which could prove useful for night vision systems, could open up a range of applications in fields such as security and medical imaging, and interest photographers who have to convert their traditional cameras to shoot in infrared.

Olympus is working on a prototype of the system with the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

In a statement, the Tokyo Institute of Technology points out that many of today’s digital cameras acquire single-sensor colour images with a colour filter array (known as a Bayer array).

Under the new system, the colour filter array contains both RGB and NIR filters.

The Tokyo Institute of Technology added: ‘The researchers have also developed an image processing system that can execute sets of image processing algorithms, such as demosaicing and colour correction, in real time.

‘The new system can acquire and display high-quality RGB and NIR images simultaneously at 60 frames per second.’

Olympus confirmed to Amateur Photographer that it is working on the development with the Tokyo Institute of Technology, though it has not issued its own statement on the matter.

For full details, you can download the Tokyo Institute of Technology’s research paper HERE.

 

Press release

June 3, 2016
Masatoshi Okutomi and researchers at Tokyo Tech and Olympus R&D have developed a new imaging system for simultaneous acquisition of color (RGB) and near-infrared (NIR) images using only a single image sensor.

Background
Commercially available compact and low-cost color digital cameras acquire single-sensor color images with a color filter array (CFA)— an array of R, G, and B filters and overlaid on the image sensor (Fig. 1). Therefore, the data acquired by CFA based image sensors are mosaic. A set of image processing algorithms such as an interpolation process of the mosaic data called demosaicking, and color correction is performed to acquire a full-color image. In this way, current color cameras realize low-cost and easy-to-use color image acquisition.

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System developed in this research
In recent years, many applications using a pair of color (RGB) and near-infrared (NIR) images have been proposed by computer vision and image processing communities. With this background, the group of Masatoshi Okutomi at Tokyo Tech and researchers at Olympus R&D have developed a prototype of a new imaging system for the simultaneous acquisition of RGB and NIR images using a single image sensor. Figure 2 is an overview of a prototype of this system consisting of a novel CFA that contains both RGB and NIR filters. The arrangement of the new CFA is shown in the Fig. 2, where “N” represents the NIR filter. The researchers have also developed an image processing system that can execute sets of image processing algorithms, such as demosaicking and color correction, in real time. The new system can acquire and display high-quality RGB and NIR images simultaneously at 60 frames per second (fps). Since the new system can provide users with a practical solution for simultaneous acquiring both the RGB and the NIR images, it is expected to open up a new range of applications in many fields such as remote sensing, security, robotics, agriculture, and medical imaging, where the NIR information is useful.

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