Time-resolved Light Transport Decomposition for Thermal Photometric Stereo

We present a novel time-resolved light transport decomposition method using thermal imaging. Because the speed of heat propagation is much slower than the speed of light propagation, transient transport of far infrared light can be observed at a video frame rate. A key observation is that the thermal image looks similar to the visible light image in an appropriately controlled environment. This implies that conventional computer vision techniques can be straightforwardly applied to the thermal image. We show that the diffuse component in the thermal image can be separated and, therefore, the surface normals of objects can be estimated by the Lambertian photometric stereo. The effectiveness of our method is evaluated by conducting real-world experiments, and its applicability to black body, transparent, and translucent objects is shown.


  • Kenichiro Tanaka
  • Nobuhiro Ikeya
  • Tsuyoshi Takatani
  • Takuya Funatomi
  • Hiroyuki Kubo
  • Yasuhiro Mukaigawa



author = {Tanaka, Kenichiro and Ikeya, Nobuhiro and Takatani, Tsuyoshi and Funatomi, Takuya and Kubo, Hiroyuki and Mukaigawa, Yasuhiro},
title = {Time-resolved Light Transport Decomposition for Thermal Photometric Stereo},
booktitle = {Proc. of IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)},
pages = {4804–4813},
month = {June},
year = {2018},