3D technology has been exciting since its early stages as a discolored, low-resolution movie that required cardboard glasses. We have come a very long way since then, however, and we are now in an age where cameras in our households are capable of reproducing 3-dimensional images and environments. We live in a time where technology advances faster than some of our own learning, which raises a good question; how does 3D technology work in cameras?

Stereopic Vision

Our understanding of 3D starts with our very own vision. We perceive our environments through a process called stereopsis. In this process, two very similar images are taken in by each individual eye, which are located on average about 60mm apart. These two images are taken from very slightly different angles. The brain compiles the images into one, and in the process, the 2 blended images allow us to see depth, judge distance and estimate the size of an object according to its location. This blend of 2 highly similar images is what we know as our daily 3D vision. Without this ability, we would live in a 2D world in which we would be unable to drive, operate a simple door handle or play catch.

Scientists who studied the process and mechanics of human vision opened the door to modern technological breakthroughs like 3D cameras and related gadgets.

How 3D Cameras Work

3D cameras use this same process of binocular vision to create 3D images. These specialized cameras use either 2 cameras, at a set distance apart, or rely on a single camera that then moves to a pre-destined location, in order to capture a different angle. These two images are then run through a processor which blends the two images in a way that incorporates details from both angles. This blended image is then colored (old process) or uses a polarized viewing apparatus to send only the correct images to both your left and right eyes so that your brain may transmute the image from 2D to 3D. Another method for creating the illusion of 3D in the case of VR is to send each image, to the corresponding eye through separate lenses which enables you brain take its natural course of solving the puzzle. If a picture from a 3D camera is shown on a flat 2D screen, the 3D image will appear as a 2D image. Two separate images need to be perceived, by each individual eye, to create the 3D effect.

3D cameras are a major technological advance that opens many avenues of possibility to the future of our world. From virtual reality and video games to how we watch television or operate a computer, the applications are very exciting. One has to stand back in awe though at the very fact that this seeming breakthrough in technology, has been with us from the very beginning.