CauStereo: Structure from underwater flickering illumination

Yohay Swirski, Yoav Y. Schechner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Underwater, in littoral zones, natural illumination typically varies strongly temporally and spatially. Waves on the water surface refract light into the water in spatiotemporal varying intensity. The resulting underwater illumination field forms a caustic network and is known as flicker. Studies in underwater computer vision typically consider flicker to be an undesired effect. In contrast, recent studies1-3 show that the spatiotemporally varying caustic network can be useful for stereoscopic vision, naturally leading to range mapping of the scene. In this paper, we survey these studies. Range triangulation by stereoscopic vision requires the determination of correspondence between image points in different viewpoints. This is typically a difficult problem. However, the spatiotemporal caustic pattern effectively encodes stereo correspondences. Thus, the use of this effect is termed 2 CauStereo. The temporal radiance variations due to flicker are unique to each object point. Thus, correspondence of image points per object point becomes unambiguous. A variational optimization formulation is used in practice to find the dense stereo correspondence field. This formulation helps overcome uncertain regions (e.g., due to shadows) and shortens the acquisition time. Limitations of the approach are revealed by ray-tracing simulations. The method was demonstrated by underwater field experiments.2

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Nature of Light
Subtitle of host publicationLight in Nature IV
StatePublished - 2012
EventThe Nature of Light: Light in Nature IV - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: 12 Aug 201212 Aug 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering


ConferenceThe Nature of Light: Light in Nature IV
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • 3D structure estimation
  • Flicker
  • Natural light field
  • Stereo correspondence
  • Underwater vision

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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