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Stereolabs' ZED camera delivers long range 3D vision

May 29, 2015 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Francis X Govers III / Gizmag

San Francisco-based Stereolabs has launched a new 3D camera that promises to deliver high quality 3D image capture at a less than astronomical price. The compact, lightweight ZED 3D vision sensor can measure distances out to 20 meters (65 feet) and work indoors and out, making it a strong candidate for applications such as large-scale architectural scanning and obstacle detection for self-driving cars and unmanned drones.


Stereo cameras are passive devices that work by comparing two images taken by cameras several inches apart. Computer software looks at the distance in pixels between similar features in each image and use that to estimate the depth or distance from the camera to objects in the scene. These algorithms require precise calibration of the cameras in order to work.

Stereolabs was founded by Cecile Schmollgruber, Edwin Azzam and Olivier Braun back in 2010. Their original customers were movie studios doing special effects. Stereolabs would come in and capture a movie set in 3D using scanners and 3D cameras so that the computer animators could come in later and add the dinosaurs, rampaging green superheroes, or legions of zombies to the scene. This experience led them to conclude that there was a need in the market for good quality stereo cameras at a reasonable price - there are some low cost 3D sensors with poor sensors, and some high end, expensive laboratory cameras, but nothing at a reasonable price with good quality optics and video.

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