Google Research

The Need 4 Speed in Real-Time Dense Visual Tracking

SIGGRAPH Asia (2018)


The advent of consumer depth cameras has incited the development of a new cohort of algorithms tackling challenging computer vision problems. The primary reason is that depth provides direct geometric information that is largely invariant to texture and illumination. As such, substantial progress has been made in human and object pose estimation, 3D reconstruction and simultaneous localization and mapping. Most of these algorithms naturally benefit from the ability to accurately track the pose of an object or scene of interest from one frame to the next. However, commercially available depth sensors (typically running at 30fps) can allow for large inter-frame motions to occur that make such tracking problematic. A high frame rate depth camera would thus greatly ameliorate these issues, and further increase the tractability of these computer vision problems. Nonetheless, the depth accuracy of recent systems for high-speed depth estimation [Fanello et al. 2017b] can degrade at high frame rates. This is because the active illumination employed produces a low SNR and thus a high exposure time is required to obtain a dense accurate depth image. Furthermore in the presence of rapid motion, longer exposure times produce artifacts due to motion blur, and necessitates a lower frame rate that introduces large inter-frame motion that often yield tracking failures. In contrast, this paper proposes a novel combination of hardware and software components that avoids the need to compromise between a dense accurate depth map and a high frame rate. We document the creation of a full 3D capture system for high speed and quality depth estimation, and demonstrate its advantages in a variety of tracking and reconstruction tasks. We extend the state of the art active stereo algorithm presented in Fanello et al. [2017b] by adding a space-time feature in the matching phase. We also propose a machine learning based depth refinement step that is an order of magnitude faster than traditional postprocessing methods. We quantitatively and qualitatively demonstrate the benefits of the proposed algorithms in the acquisition of geometry in motion. Our pipeline executes in 1.1ms leveraging modern GPUs and off-the-shelf cameras and illumination components. We show how the sensor can be employed in many different applications, from [non-]rigid reconstructions to hand/face tracking. Further, we show many advantages over existing state of the art depth camera technologies beyond framerate, including latency, motion artifacts, multi-path errors, and multi-sensor interference.

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