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Innovative optical non-contact measurement of respiratory function using photometric stereo

Ahmad, Jahanzeb

Innovative optical non-contact measurement of respiratory function using photometric stereo Thumbnail


Jahanzeb Ahmad


Pulmonary functional testing is very common and widely used in today's clinical environment for testing lung function. The contact based nature of a Spirometer can cause breathing awareness that alters the breathing pattern, affects the amount of air inhaled and exhaled and has hygiene implications. Spirometry also requires a high degree of compliance from the patient, as they have to breathe through a hand held mouth piece. To solve these issues a non-contact computer vision based system was developed for Pulmonary Functional Testing. This employs an improved photometric stereo method that was developed to recover local 3D surface orientation to enable calculation of breathing volumes.

Although Photometric Stereo offers an attractive technique for acquiring 3D data using low-cost equipment, inherent limitations in the methodology have served to limit its practical application, particularly in measurement or metrology tasks. Traditional Photometric Stereo assumes that lighting directions at every pixel are the same, which is not usually the case in real applications and especially where the size of object being observed is comparable to the working distance. Such imperfections of the illumination may make the subsequent reconstruction procedures used to obtain the 3D shape of the scene, prone to low frequency geometric distortion and systematic error (bias). Also, the 3D reconstruction of the object results in a geometric shape with an unknown scale. To overcome these problems a novel method of estimating the distance of the object from the camera was developed, which employs Photometric Stereo images without using other additional imaging modality. The method firstly identifies the Lambertian Diffused Maxima regions to calculate the object's distance from the camera, from which the corrected per-pixel light vector is derived and the absolute dimensions of the object can be subsequently estimated. We also propose a new calibration process to allow a dynamic (as an object moves in the field of view) calculation of light vectors for each pixel with little additional computational cost. Experiments performed on synthetic as well as real data demonstrate that the proposed approach offers improved performance, achieving a reduction in the estimated surface normal error by up to 45% as well as the mean height error of reconstructed surface of up to 6 mm. In addition, compared with traditional photometric stereo, the proposed method reduces the mean angular and height error so that it is low, constant and independent of the position of the object placement within a normal working range.

A high (0.98) correlation between breathing volume calculated from Photometric Stereo and Spirometer data was observed. This breathing volume is then converted to absolute amount of air by using distance information obtained by Lambertian Diffused Maxima Region. The unique and novel feature of this system is that it views the patients from both front and back and creates a 3D structure of the whole torso. By observing the 3D structure of the torso over time, the amount of air inhaled and exhaled can be estimated.


Ahmad, J. Innovative optical non-contact measurement of respiratory function using photometric stereo. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2019
Keywords optical, non-contact measurement, respiratory function, photometric stereo
Public URL
Award Date Jan 16, 2015


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