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Edge-preserving interpolation of depth data exploiting color information


The extraction of depth information associated to dynamic scenes is an intriguing topic, because of its perspective role in many applications, including free viewpoint and 3D video systems. Time-of-flight (ToF) range cameras allow for the acquisition of depth maps at video rate, but they are characterized by a limited resolution, specially if compared with standard color cameras. This paper presents a super-resolution method for depth maps that exploits the side information from a standard color camera: the proposed method uses a segmented version of the high-resolution color image acquired by the color camera in order to identify the main objects in the scene and a novel surface prediction scheme in order to interpolate the depth samples provided by the ToF camera. Effective solutions are provided for critical issues such as the joint calibration between the two devices and the unreliability of the acquired data. Experimental results on both synthetic and real-world scenes have shown how the proposed method allows to obtain a more accurate interpolation with respect to standard interpolation approaches and state-of-the-art joint depth and color interpolation schemes.

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  1. In the following description, we will call samples the input depth values obtained by reprojecting the ToF data, and pixels, the output pixels of the high-resolution depth map.

  2. Threshold values of 0.1 and 0.4 refer to a depth value range between 0 and 1.

  3. The errors reported in this section are measured in pixels on the high-resolution image of the color cameras

  4. The acquired data for this setup is available online at the address

  5. In both cases, we just warped the images using a 3D mesh built from the depth data; no ad hoc post processing algorithms were used.


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Correspondence to Pietro Zanuttigh.

Appendix: Appendix: Bilinear interpolation on nonregular grids

Appendix: Appendix: Bilinear interpolation on nonregular grids

In the proposed approach, after the calibration step, the available samples are not regularly distributed over a lattice. This appendix shows how the well-known bilinear interpolation scheme can be extended to nonregular grids.

Fig. 22
figure 22

Bilinear interpolation configuration

Referring to Fig. 22, the depth of the red point p(x, y) is estimated from the depth D i = D(p i ), i = 1, . . , 4 of the four blue samples p i (x i , y i ), i = 1, . . , 4. The procedure works in two steps: firstly, we estimate the depth of the two yellow points p a (x a , y a ) = p a (x, y a ) and p b (x b , y b ) = p a (x, y b ), and then the depth of p is computed by interpolating the ones of p a and p b . Let us define with Δx i = |p i p| x = |x i x|, i = 1, . . , 4 and Δy i = |p i p| y = |y i y|; i = 1, . . , 4 the absolute value of the differences between the x and y coordinates of the available low-resolution samples (blue samples) and the coordinates of the point that is estimated (in red), i.e., the absolute value of the x and y components of the vectors connecting samples p i with p. First of all, the depth \(D_{a} \triangleq D(\mathbf {p}_{a})\) of point p a (x, y a ) is estimated by linearly interpolating the depths of p 1 and p 2.

$$ \hat{D_{a}} = \frac{\Delta x_{2}}{\Delta x_{1} + \Delta x_{2}} D_{1} + \frac{\Delta x_{1}}{\Delta x_{1} + \Delta x_{2}} D_{2} $$
$$ = C_{1} D_{1} + C_{2} D_{2} $$

where C 1 = Δx 2/(Δx 1 + Δx 2) and C 2 = Δx 1/(Δx 1 + Δx 2). The same procedure is applied to the estimate of depth D(p b ) of p b (x, y b ) from p 3 and p 4:

$$\begin{array}{*{20}l} \hat{D_{b}} &= \frac{\Delta x_{4}}{\Delta x_{3} + \Delta x_{4}} D_{3} + \frac{\Delta x_{3}}{\Delta x_{3} + \Delta x_{4}} D_{4} \end{array} $$
$$ = C_{3} D_{3} + C_{4} D_{4} $$

where C 3 = Δ x 4/(Δx 3 + Δx 4) and C 4 = Δx 3/(Δx 3 + Δx 4). The vertical coordinates Δy a = y a y and Δy b = yy b of p a and p b with respect to p can be computed as follows:

$$\begin{array}{*{20}l} \Delta y_{a} &= \frac{\Delta x_{2}}{\Delta x_{1} + \Delta x_{2}} \Delta y_{1} + \frac{\Delta x_{1}}{\Delta x_{1} + \Delta x_{2}} \Delta y_{2} \end{array} $$
$$ = C_{3} \Delta y_{3} + C_{4} \Delta y_{4} $$
$$\begin{array}{*{20}l} \Delta y_{b} = \frac{\Delta x_{4}}{\Delta x_{3} + \Delta x_{4}} \Delta y_{3} + \frac{\Delta x_{3}}{\Delta x_{3} + \Delta x_{4}} \Delta y_{4} \end{array} $$
$$ =C_{3} \Delta y_{3} + C_{4} \Delta y_{4} $$

In the second step, the depths D a and D b of p a and p b are linearly interpolated to get the depth of p:

$$ \hat{D}(\mathbf{p}) = \frac{\Delta y_{b}}{\Delta y_{a} + \Delta y_{b}} \hat{D}_{a} + \frac{\Delta y_{a}}{\Delta y_{a} + \Delta y_{b}} \hat{D}_{b} $$
$$ = C_{a} C_{1} D_{1} + C_{a} C_{2} D_{2} + C_{b} C_{3} D_{3} + C_{b} C_{4} D_{4} \\ $$
$$ = \gamma_{1} D_{1} + \gamma_{2} D_{2} + \gamma_{3} D_{3} + \gamma_{4} D_{4} $$

where C a = Δy b /(Δy a + Δy b ) , C b = Δy a /(Δy a + Δy b ), γ 1 = C a C 1, γ 2 = C a C 2, γ 3 = C b C 3 and γ 4 = C b C 4. Equation 21 has been obtained by replacing \(\hat {D_{a}}\) and \(\hat {D_{a}}\) in Eq. 20 with their expressions from Eqs. 13 and 15. Note how the final result is a weighted average of the four samples where the weights depend on the positions of the various samples as in standard bilinear interpolation. This approach is directly used on the low-resolution samples when the segmented region contains all the four samples, while in the other cases, the missing samples are firstly estimated by the methods of Section 3.2, and then Eq. 22 is applied.

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Garro, V., Dal Mutto, C., Zanuttigh, P. et al. Edge-preserving interpolation of depth data exploiting color information. Ann. Telecommun. 68, 597–613 (2013).

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