Coded time of flight cameras: sparse deconvolution to address multipath interference and recover time profiles

A Kadambi, R Whyte, A Bhandari, L Streeter, C Barsi, A Dorrington, Ramesh Raskar


Time of flight cameras produce real-time range maps at a relatively low cost using continuous wave amplitude modulation and demodulation. However, they are geared to measure range (or phase) for a single reflected bounce of light and suffer from systematic errors due to multipath interference. We re-purpose the conventional time of flight device for a new goal: to recover per-pixel sparse time profiles expressed as a sequence of impulses. With this modification, we show that we can not only address multipath interference but also enable new applications such as recovering depth of near-transparent surfaces, looking through diffusers and creating time-profile movies of sweeping light.Our key idea is to formulate the forward amplitude modulated light propagation as a convolution with custom codes, record samples by introducing a simple sequence of electronic time delays, and perform sparse deconvolution to recover sequences of Diracs that correspond to multipath returns. Applications to computer vision include ranging of near-transparent objects and subsurface imaging through diffusers. Our low cost prototype may lead to new insights regarding forward and inverse problems in light transport.

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