Vision-based Tracking with Dynamic Structured Light for Video See-through Augmented Reality

Mark Alan Livingston
Defended: 7 October 1998
Advisor: Prof. Henry Fuchs
Reader: Prof. Gregory Welch
Reader: David Eberly, Senior Programmer, Numerical Design Limited
Reader: Prof. James Coggins
Committee member: Prof. Gary Bishop

Tracking has proven a difficult problem to solve accurately without limiting the user or the application. Vision-based systems have shown promise, but are limited by occlusion of the landmarks. We introduce a new approach to vision-based tracking using structured light to generate landmarks. The novel aspect of this approach is the system need not know the 3D locations of landmarks. This implies that motion within the field of view of the camera does not disturb tracking as long as landmarks are reflected off any surface into the camera. This dissertation specifies an algorithm which tracks a camera using structured light. A simulator demonstrates excellent performance on user motion data from an application currently limited by inaccurate tracking. Further analysis reveals directions for implementation of the system, theoretical limitations, and potential extensions to the algorithm. The term augmented reality (AR) has been given to applications that merge computer graphics with images of the user's surroundings. AR could give a doctor "X-ray vision" with which to examine the patient before or during surgery. At this point in time, AR systems have not been used in place of the traditional methods of performing medical or other tasks. One important problem that limits acceptance of AR systems is lack of precise registration---alignment---between real and synthetic objects. There are many components of an AR system that contribute to registration. One of the most important is the tracking system. The tracking data must be accurate, so that the real and synthetic objects are aligned properly. Our work in augmented reality focuses on medical applications. These require precise alignment of medical imagery with the physician's view of the patient. Although many technologies have been applied, including mechanical, magnetic, optical, et al, we have yet to find a system sufficiently accurate and robust to provide correct and reliable registration. We believe the system specified here contributes to tracking in AR applications in two key ways: it takes advantage of equipment already used for AR, and it has the potential to provide sufficient registration for demanding AR applications without imposing the limitations of current vision-based tracking systems.
A PDF file of the entire thesis is available. Inquiries regarding the thesis work should be sent to me at .

This research was supported in part by the following agencies and institutions:

Portions of this thesis work are included in U.S. Patent #5,870,136, issued on 8 February 1999 to Dr. Gary Bishop, Dr. Henry Fuchs, Dr. Mark A. Livingston, and Dr. Greg Welch, entitled "Dynamic Generation of Imperceptible Structured Light for Tracking and Acquisition of Three Dimensional Scene Geometry and Surface Characteristics in Interactive Three Dimensional Computer Graphics Applications."