Optical Device to Protect Privacy in 3D Time-of-Flight (TOF) Cameras

Technology #15360

Privacy-Protecting Optics Address Concerns over Video Data Collected by Sensor Video Devices

These privacy-preserving optics filter or modulate light before it reaches the sensor of time-of-flight cameras, preserving the privacy of subjects seen on live camera feeds and recordings without impacting depth quality. The video surveillance, gesture recognition and depth sensing market size in total is expected to exceed $25 billion by 2016. Surveillance of the public is ever-increasing as cameras are used for new applications such as motion tracking for video games, webcam communication, and people counting. An important concern as surveillance becomes more universal among the public is the liability of the recorder for invading a citizen’s right to privacy by identifying them. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a computational theory of privacy-preserving optics that blurs or blocks incoming light before it reaches cameras. For example, these optics can be applied to cameras with publicly accessible feeds, cameras inside the home (blocking incoming light when the camera is intended to be off), or image-processing devices where high resolution images are not required. In each situation, these optics preserve the privacy of subjects at very low cost without impacting camera function.


Optics that maintain the privacy of recorded individuals by modulating incoming light to time-of-flight sensors


  • Is applicable to new and existing camera systems, creating immediate usefulness and continued market longevity
  • Preserves privacy of public, improving camera function by decreasing potential liability
  • Uses simple optics, reducing cost of final product


These simple optics can be constructed into sensors to help maintain the privacy of image subjects. They consist of multiple apertures with blurring lenses and/or a blank-out panel that completely blocks incoming light. By attaching these to multi-sensor devices or depth sensors, the total privacy of the cameras/sensors is increased at very little cost. Because of the way the defocus is designed, the depth sensing capability of the time-of-flight cameras