Two camera Solution on pi 4, 3B+ and 3 – What you need to know about the background
When we talk about a new two-camera solution on RPi, we have to mention the background of the stereo Pi camera on this popular open source hardware platform. For a long time, advanced users of the Raspberry Pi community want to take video or images from multiple cameras simultaneously for 3D vids & pics, face/object detection, stereo robotic vision or advanced surveillance and livestreaming applications, so they want a really stereo camera for raspberry pi 3, 4, and other standard Pi boards. It was an unresolved problem limited by the RPi’s hardware design because the standard Raspberry pi models only have one camera port. Although Arducam has multi-camera adapter boards that let you connect up to 4 cameras to a single pi board, it only actives one camera at a time, and you have to switch between them.
The other alternative is to use network-based synchronization, but you still have to use one Raspberry pi board for each camera setup, and the capture process is still not at the exact same time which will introduce the movement or artifacts between multiple images.
New Stereoscopic Camera Breakout Board – Arducam’s Big Step Forward
Now Arducam released a stereo camera HAT for Raspberry Pi which allows you to connect two 5MP OV5647 or two 8MP IMX219 Pi cameras to a single standard Pi board and takes images or video at the same time. More importantly, this binocular solution makes both camera fully synchronized. The highlight of this stereo camera HAT is that it incorporates Arducam proprietary ArduChip solution and extends the usage of the single pi camera port, and it cheats the Raspberry pi as if only one camera connected. It supports and is fully compatible with Raspistill commands for preview, and Raspivid command for video capture/processing with RPi’s default camera driver for its 5MP and 8MP cameras.
Panoramic (3D) photos and videos with Raspberry Pi 4
With the latest Pi 4’s hardware, Arducam makes more camera applications possible for Raspberry Pi 4. This new HAT also supports other Arducam Raspberry Pi cameras and proprietary camera driver that works up to two 16MP, and as the Pi 4 is much more powerful, you can not only shoot two pictures at the same time. With the shared oscillator and I2C broadcasting, the two cameras are fully synchronized in nanosecond level. These features are excellent for a lot of applications, such as 3D Vision for IoT or panoramics photos and videos. Combined with a nice fisheye camera from Arducam and some image processing software, you can stitch a wonderful panorama with higher resolution and better accuracy.
Feature and Specification
- Support all series Raspberry Pi boards, Pi HAT board style
- Two MIPI camera input and one MIPI camera output
- Support 1, 2 and 4lane MIPI cameras up-to 800Mbps/lane
- Support Raspistill (preview) and Raspivid (processing) commands for 5MP/8MP pi cameras with half-resolution combine
- Support Arducam RPI cameras up to 16MP with proprietary camera driver with full resolution combine
- Support camera side-by-side combine (split – right left), channel 0 and channel 1 software switching on the fly
- Support digital pan in half resolution combine, programmable pan speed control
- Oscillator sharing requires extra cables, soldering skill needed or please use Arducam bundle kit
- Typical Applications in Stereo Vision, 360 Camera and Advance Surveillance Camera
- Contact us for other platform support
Real-time depth mapping – A Typical application in which this stereo solution can be used
So what is the point of two cameras? The short answer is you will get different information from each camera, and if it’s fully synchronized, it is real-time. The information difference then could be used in applications like distance and depth mapping. To put it simply, this is also a bionic solution because that’s like how eyes work. If you are a user of Google’s camera app, you might have used the “Len Blur” feature in it, which requires you to lift up the camera to take pictures, and that is also image information difference. In this feature, it calculates the distance to decide which object is in the front to stay clear and what else should be blurred in the background, so you can have a picture that seems like it’s from a DSLR lens. However, that is only a simple application used in our daily life, and you can have much more fancy projects like 3d modeling and AR/VR Cameras for Raspberry Pi 4.
We’ve already finished the prototype, and it will be available for bulk ordering soon!