How to create a seamless panorama video from multiple cameras

Kurzweil AI - Wed, 06/05/2015 - 3:42am

A crop from a 20 megapixel panorama created from a highly unstructured array consisting of 14 cameras (credit: F. Perazzi et al/Eurographics 2015)

Non-professionals may someday be able to create high-quality video panoramas using multiple cameras with the help of an algorithm developed by a team of Disney researchers.

Their method smooths out the blurring, ghosting and other distortions that routinely occur when video feeds from unstructured camera arrays are combined to create a single panoramic video. The algorithm corrects for the apparent difference in position of an object caused by parallax (different camera angles) and image warping that occurs because of slight timing differences between cameras, both of which lead to visible discontinuities, ghosting, and other imperfections in existing approaches.

Linking random smartphones

The researchers have demonstrated their technique using as many as 14 various types of cameras, generating panoramic video with tens of megapixels to more than 100 megapixels.

“We can foresee a day when just about anyone could create a high-quality video panorama by setting up a few video cameras or even linking several smartphones, just as many people today can easily create a still photo panorama with their smartphones,” said Alexander Sorkine-Hornung, a senior research scientist at Disney Research Zürich, who collaborated with colleagues at ETH Zürich and Disney Imagineering on the study.

Their open-access findings are being presented at EUROGRAPHICS 2015, the Annual Conference of the European Association for Computer Graphics, May 4–8, in Zürich, Switzerland.

Though some professional methods using pre-calibrated camera arrays exist for creating video panoramas, the Disney team focused on combining videos from multiple cameras that have overlapping visual fields, but are not precisely positioned and are not perfectly synchronized.

Algorithms that correct for position, alignment, and timing

Their technique automatically analyzes the images from the cameras to estimate the position and alignment of each camera, which eliminates the need to use special or manual calibration techniques, and allows for a flexible positioning of the cameras.

The algorithm corrects for differences in parallax that create ghosting and other disturbing effects in the areas of the panorama where images from separate cameras are stitched together. It also detects and corrects for image warping — wavy lane markings on roads, or buildings that appear to bend over — that occurs when images are stitched together. The technique also compensates for slight differences in the timing of frames between cameras, which otherwise causes jitter and other artifacts in the image.

Disney Research Hub | Panoramic Video from Unstructured Camera Arrays

Abstract of Panoramic Video from Unstructured Camera Arrays

We describe an algorithm for generating panoramic video from unstructured camera arrays. Artifact-free panorama stitching is impeded by parallax between input views. Common strategies such as multi-level blending or minimum energy seams produce seamless results on quasi-static input. However, on video input these approaches introduce noticeable visual artifacts due to lack of global temporal and spatial coherence. In this paper we extend the basic concept of local warping for parallax removal. Firstly, we introduce an error measure with increased sensitivity to stitching artifacts in regions with pronounced structure. Using this measure, our method efficiently finds an optimal ordering of pair-wise warps for robust stitching with minimal parallax artifacts. Weighted extrapolation of warps in non-overlap regions ensures temporal stability, while at the same time avoiding visual discontinuities around transitions between views. Remaining global deformation introduced by the warps is spread over the entire panorama domain using constrained relaxation, while staying as close as possible to the original input views. In combination, these contributions form the first system for spatiotemporally stable panoramic video stitching from unstructured camera array input.

Categories: Science

Mysterious Sounds Recorded During Near Space Balloon Flight

Slashdot - Wed, 06/05/2015 - 3:20am
An anonymous reader writes: LiveScience reports on strange sounds recorded by microphones on board a high altitude balloon. The sounds were captured at altitudes of up to 36 kilometers, higher than any such experiment to date. Most of the noises are in Infrasound frequencies — below 20 Hz. Researchers aren't sure what caused the noises, but they have a few theories: "a wind farm under the balloon's flight path, crashing ocean waves, wind turbulence, gravity waves, clear air turbulence, and vibrations caused by the balloon cable."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

New chip architecture may increase qubits in a future quantum computer

Kurzweil AI - Wed, 06/05/2015 - 3:18am

A photograph of the completed BGA trap assembly. The trap chip is at the center, sitting on the larger interposer chip that fans out the wiring. The trap chip surface area is 1mm x 3mm, while the interposer is roughly 1 cm square. (credit: D. Youngner, Honeywell)

Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute and Honeywell International have developed a new ion trap architecture (using ions trapped inside a vacuum chamber and manipulated with lasers) that could increase the density of qubits in future quantum computers.

The GTRI/Honeywell approach uses new microfabrication techniques that allow more electrodes to fit onto the chip. The design borrows ideas from a type of packaging called a ball grid array (BGA), which is used to mount integrated circuits.

Schematic cross section through BGA trap die and interposer (not to scale) (credit: Nicolas D. Guise et al./Journal of Applied Physics)

The ball grid array design can bring electrical signals directly from the backside of the mount to the surface, thus increasing the potential density of electrical connections.

The researchers also freed up more chip space by replacing area-intensive surface or edge capacitors with trench capacitors and strategically moving wire connections. The space-saving moves allowed tight focusing of an addressing laser beam for fast operations on single qubits.


Working with trapped ion qubits currently requires a room full of bulky equipment and several graduate students to make it all run properly, so the researchers say much work remains to be done to shrink the technology.

In the meantime, these advances have applications beyond quantum computing, such as “microfabrication techniques for making miniature atomic devices like sensors, magnetometers and chip-scale atomic clocks,” said GTRI’s Nicholas Guise, who led the research.

The researchers describe the work in an open-access paper appearing today (May 5) in the Journal of Applied Physics.

Abstract of Ball-grid array architecture for microfabricated ion traps

State-of-the-art microfabricated ion traps for quantum information research are approaching nearly one hundred control electrodes. We report here on the development and testing of a new architecture for microfabricated ion traps, built around ball-grid array (BGA) connections, that is suitable for increasingly complex trap designs. In the BGA trap, through-substrate vias bring electrical signals from the back side of the trap die to the surface trap structure on the top side. Gold-ball bump bonds connect the back side of the trap die to an interposer for signal routing from the carrier. Trench capacitors fabricated into the trap die replace area-intensive surface or edge capacitors. Wirebonds in the BGA architecture are moved to the interposer. These last two features allow the trap die to be reduced to only the area required to produce trapping fields. The smaller trap dimensions allow tight focusing of an addressing laser beam for fast single-qubit rotations. Performance of the BGA trap as characterized with 40Ca+ ions is comparable to previous surface-electrode traps in terms of ion heating rate, mode frequency stability, and storage lifetime. We demonstrate two-qubit entanglement operations with 171Yb+ ions in a second BGA trap.

Categories: Science

How to turn your smartphone into a microscope for 1 cent

Kurzweil AI - Wed, 06/05/2015 - 2:44am

Top row: human skin with hair follicle. (a) through (c) were imaged with an Olympus IX-70 microscope at a magnification of 40, 100 and 200. (d) was imaged with a Nokia Lumia 520 smartphone with a special plastic lens. Bottom row shows magnified regions. Scale bars are 200 and 30 micrometers (credit: University of Houston)

University of Houston (UH) scientists have created an optical lens that  you can directly attach over an inexpensive smartphone camera lens to amplify images 120 times with an imaging resolution of 1 micrometer for just one cent (to create the lens in a lab), according to Wei-Chuan Shih, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UH.

The new lens could also have clinical applications, allowing small or isolated clinics to share images with specialists located elsewhere, he said.

In an open-access paper published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics, Shih and three graduate students describe how they produced the lenses and examine the image quality.

(a) Changing the temperature of the preheated surface modifies the shape of a cured lens. (b) The inkjet print head printing droplet lenses on a heated surface, and (c) The lens can be attached to a smartphone for microscopy applications. (credit: University of Houston)

The lens is made of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a polymer (plastic) with the consistency of honey, dropped precisely on a preheated surface to cure. Lens curvature — and therefore, magnification — depends on how long and at what temperature the PDMS is heated, Sung said.

Attaching to a smartphone

The resulting lenses are flexible, similar to a soft contact lens but thicker and slightly smaller, and the strong yet non-permanent adhesion between PDMS and glass allows the lens to be easily detached after use.

Lens on iPhone 4S (credit: Yulu Sung)

Conventional lenses are produced by mechanical polishing or injection molding of materials such as glass or plastics. Liquid lenses are available, too, but those that aren’t cured require special housing to remain stable.

Other types of liquid lenses require an additional device to adhere to the smartphone, he said. This lens attaches directly to the phone’s camera lens and remains attached, Sung said, so it’s reusable.

For the study, researchers captured images of a human skin-hair follicle histological slide with both the smartphone-PDMS system and an Olympus IX-70 microscope. At a magnification of 120, the smartphone lens was comparable to the Olympus microscope at a magnification of 100, they said, and software-based digital magnification could enhance it further.

A conventional research-quality microscope can cost $10,000. “A microscope is much more versatile, but of course, much more expensive,” Sung said.

The lens would be a cheap and convenient way for younger students to do field studies or classroom work. Because the lens attaches to a smartphone, it’s easy to share images by email or text, he said. And because the lenses are so inexpensive, it wouldn’t be a disaster if a lens was lost or broken.

For now, researchers are producing the lenses by hand, using a hand-built device similar to an inkjet printer. Producing the lenses in bulk will require funding for manufacturing equipment, so the graduate students launched a crowdfunding campaign last year on Indiegogo, hoping to raise $12,000 for the equipment. They’ve raised $3,000 so far.

KurzweilAI has covered three other low-cost microscope projects: a similar 160x droplet lens from The Australian National University, the 150x Micro Phone Lens, and the 800x Microbescope.

Abstract of Fabricating optical lenses by inkjet printing and heat-assisted in situ curing of polydimethylsiloxane for smartphone microscopy

We present a highly repeatable, lithography-free and mold-free method for fabricating flexible optical lenses by in situ curing liquid polydimethylsiloxane droplets on a preheated smooth surface with an inkjet printing process. This method enables us to fabricate lenses with a focal length as short as 5.6 mm, which can be controlled by varying the droplet volume and the temperature of the preheated surface. Furthermore, the lens can be attached to a smartphone camera without any accessories and can produce high-resolution (1  μm) images for microscopy applications.

Categories: Science

The Ambitions and Challenges of Mesh Networks and the Local Internet Movement

Slashdot - Wed, 06/05/2015 - 2:17am
Lashdots writes: Two artists in New York are hatching a plan to teach kids about the internet by building their own. They'll be creating a small, decentralized network, similar to a mesh network, to access other computers, and they'll be developing their own simple social network to communicate with other people. It's part of a growing movement to supplement the Internet with resilient, local alternatives. "And yet, while the decentralized, ad hoc network architecture appeals philosophically to tech-savvy users fed up with monopolistic ISPs, nobody’s found a way to make mesh networks work easily and efficiently enough to replace home Internet connections. Built more for resiliency than for speed, each participating router must continuously search for the best paths to far-flung machines. For now, that makes them of limited interest to many ordinary consumers who simply want to check their email and watch movies."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Cyberlock Lawyers Threaten Security Researcher Over Vulnerability Disclosure

Slashdot - Wed, 06/05/2015 - 1:19am
qubezz writes: Security researcher Phar (Mike Davis/IOActive) gave his 30 days of disclosure notice to Cyberlock (apparently a company that makes electronic lock cylinders) that he would release a public advisory on vulnerabilities he found with the company's security devices. On day 29, their lawyers responded with a request to refrain, feigning ignorance of the previous notice, and invoking mention of the DMCA (this is not actually a DMCA takedown notice, as the law firm is attempting to suppress initial disclosure through legal wrangling). Mike's blog states: "The previous DMCA threats are from a company called Cyberlock, I had planned to do a fun little blog post (cause i ... hate blog posts) on the fun of how I obtained one, extracted the firmware bypassing the code protection and figured out its "encryption" and did various other fun things a lock shouldn't do for what its marketed as.. But before I could write that post I needed to let them know what issues we have deemed weaknesses in their gear.. the below axe grinderery is the results. (sic)" What should researchers do when companies make baseless legal threats to maintain their security-through-obscurity? Related: Bitcoin exchange company Coinbase has been accused of spying on a dark net researcher.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

SpaceX Testing Passenger Escape System Tomorrow

Slashdot - Wed, 06/05/2015 - 12:20am
An anonymous reader writes: On Wednesday, SpaceX will be performing the first test of a prototype for its passenger capsule escape system. Most rockets have a launch abort system that will save the lives of its crew within the first few minutes of launch, but not beyond a relatively low altitude. SpaceX is designing the new system to be able to return astronauts safely whether they're close to the ground or near orbit. The Dragon capsule will fire eight SuperDraco thrusters, capable of producing 120,000 lbs of axial thrust between them in under a second. With that amount of thrust, the capsule can get half a kilometer away from a failing rocket in under 5 seconds. SpaceX will have 270 sensors aboard the prototype, including a crash test dummy. The main mission goals include: determining the best sequencing for the launch abort timeline, getting all eight thrusters to fire in unison, and seeing how an aborted launch affects both the inside of the capsule and the area around it. The test is planned to start at 7 a.m. EDT (11:00 UTC), but they have a 7.5-hour window if there are minor delays.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

X-Flare! New Sunspot Makes Presence Known | Video - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:44pm
Sunspot AR2339 unleashed an X2.7 solar flare on May 5th, 2015. A radio blackout alert was issued for areas over the Pacific Ocean by NASA/NOAA. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured the fireworks in multiple wavelengths.
Categories: Science

The World’s First Self-Driving Semi-Truck Hits the Road

Wired News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:41pm

If the truck encounters a situation it can’t confidently handle, like heavy snow, it will alert the human that it’s time for him to take over via beeps and icons.

The post The World’s First Self-Driving Semi-Truck Hits the Road appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Police Can Obtain Cellphone Location Records Without a Warrant

Slashdot - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:40pm
mi writes: A new ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found by a margin of 9-2 that law enforcement does not need to get a warrant to grab your cell phone's location records. The justices ruled that there is no expectation of privacy for your location when you're using a cell phone. This decision (PDF) was based on a case in which a man was convicted of robbery after months of location data was given to authorities by his cell phone carrier, MetroPCS. Police got the information using a court order, rather than a warrant, because there were less stringent requirements involved. One of the judges wrote: "We find no reason to conclude that cellphone users lack facts about the functions of cell towers or about telephone providers' recording cell tower usage."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Patent Application Reveals New Details About Amazon’s Drone

Wired News - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:32pm

Amazon has applied for a patent on its somewhat starry-eyed drone delivery system.

The post Patent Application Reveals New Details About Amazon’s Drone appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Report: Microsoft Considering Salesforce Acquisition

Slashdot - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:19pm
An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that Microsoft is considering making a bid for CRM and cloud software company Salesforce, after hearing that Salesforce was entertaining an offer from another company. No talks are underway, but Salesforce has started working with investment banks to figure out how it wants to respond to such offers. Salesforce has a market value of about $50 billion, so any sort of acquisition would be a huge business deal.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer

Slashdot - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:58pm
An anonymous reader writes: An editorial at Tom's Hardware makes the case that Google's Android fragmentation problem has gotten too big to ignore any longer. Android 5.0 Lollipop and its successor 5.1 have seen very low adoption rates — 9.0% and 0.7% respectively. Almost 40% of users are still on KitKat. 6% lag far behind on Gingerbread and Froyo. The article points out that even Microsoft is now making efforts to both streamline Windows upgrades and adapt Android (and iOS) apps to run on Windows. If Google doesn't adapt, "it risks having users (slowly but surely) switch to more secure platforms that do give them updates in a timely manner. And if users want those platforms, OEMs will have no choice but to switch to them too, leaving Google with less and less Android adoption." The author also says OEMs and carriers can no longer be trusted to handle operating system updates, because they've proven themselves quite incapable of doing so in a reasonable manner.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Hispanics' health in the United States: Report

Science Daily - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:27pm
The first national study on Hispanic health risks and leading causes of death in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that similar to non-Hispanic whites (whites), the two leading causes of death in Hispanics are heart disease and cancer. Fewer Hispanics than whites die from the 10 leading causes of death, but Hispanics had higher death rates than whites from diabetes and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.
Categories: Science

Researchers produce jet fuel compounds from fungus

Science Daily - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:26pm
Researchers have found a way to make jet fuel from a common black fungus found in decaying leaves, soil and rotting fruit. The researchers hope the process leads to economically viable production of aviation biofuels in the next five years.
Categories: Science

Ethanol refining may release more of some pollutants than previously thought

Science Daily - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:26pm
Ethanol fuel refineries could be releasing much larger amounts of some ozone-forming compounds into the atmosphere than current assessments suggest, a new study finds. Airborne measurements downwind from an ethanol fuel refinery in Decatur, Illinois, show that ethanol emissions are 30 times higher than government estimates. The measurements also show emissions of all volatile organic compounds, which include ethanol, were five times higher than government numbers, which estimate emissions based on manufacturing information.
Categories: Science

Plant-derived compound targets cancer stem cells

Science Daily - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:26pm
A compound and an enzyme that occur naturally in cruciferous vegetables--cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts--may help prevent recurrence and spread of some cancers, according to researchers. When they treated human cervical cancer stem cells with phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) in a Petri dish, about 75 percent died within 24 hours using a 20-micromolar concentration of the compound.
Categories: Science

High fever: Is it measles or flu?

Science Daily - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:26pm
A pathologist and infectious disease expert offers symptoms parents should watch for if they suspect their child has the measles.
Categories: Science

'Herd immunity' threatened in measles outbreak, pathologist says

Science Daily - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:26pm
Spending time with other people is a cure for loneliness. But being a member of a vaccinated community has an important added benefit: preventing the spread of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases. The current concern over outbreaks of measles in the United States provides valuable lessons about how vaccinations are effective across a broad community.
Categories: Science

GOG Announces Open Beta For New Game Distribution Platform

Slashdot - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:15pm
New submitter Donaithnen writes: Like many geeks, I'm against the idea of DRM in general and have championed's DRM-free approach to selling games online. Yet like many geeks, I've also often succumbed to the temptation of Steam because of the convenience of tracking, installing, and playing my PC game purchases through the launcher (not to mention the compulsion of collecting achievements, and watching the total playtime for my favorite games (to my occasional dismay). Now, GOG has announced the open beta for GOG Galaxy, an entirely optional launcher to allow those who want (and only those who want) to have all the same features when playing GOG games.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science