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Communications of the ACM


When Two Cameras Are a Crowd

brightly colored camera shutters, illustration

Credit: Andrij Borys Associates, Shutterstock

Vision and robotics systems enabled by cameras that recover 3D scene geometry are revolutionizing several aspects of our lives via technologies such as autonomous transportation, robotic surgery, and 'hands-free' user interfaces. Modern 3D cameras are active devices, where a programmable light source emits coded illumination. The emitted light gets reflected from the scene and is received by a sensor to infer the 3D structure of the surroundings. In a multi-camera environment, such active 3D cameras may receive light from the sources of other cameras, resulting in large depth errors. This problem is becoming increasingly important due to the emergence of low-cost and compact active 3D cameras, which are becoming ubiquitous across a wide range of applications, from consumer devices to vehicular vision systems.

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We observe that the multi-camera interference (MCI) problem shares several similarities and dissimilarities with common interference problems in the RF domain. Based on this observation, this article describes new and emerging challenges when multiple active 3D cameras operate in the same spatio-temporal region. The article also outlines some solutions, and more importantly, highlights the next steps.


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