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3-D Imaging Adds Depth to Science, Industry and Medicine

Photonics Spectra
Feb 1997
Samuel R. Rod, Bristlecone Corp.

When most people over 30 think of three-dimensional video, they conjure up memories of wearing silly red/blue glasses to watch even sillier horror movies. Today, three-dimensional imaging is serious business. An impressive array of advances in 3-D imaging technology for scientific and industrial applications is finally overcoming the stigma from 3-D’s popular entertainment past.
The explosion of stereoscopic applications in the last decade comes from the combination of four new technologies: digital photography and video recording; high-speed personal computers; high resolution graphics and video processors; and liquid crystal devices. Assembled into systems, these technologies give us extraordinary convenience and flexibility in handling, presenting and analyzing 3-D images.

3-D Imaging Relies on Stereopsis
Most stereo imaging systems share a basic layout. A stereoscopic encoder combines left and right camera images into one signal. Still stereo images can be stored on a hard disk; stereo video material is usually recorded on conventional videotape. A stereoscopic decoder must process the signal before it is displayed on a standard playback device.

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