This chapter provides a general introduction to panoramic imaging, mostly at an informal level. Panoramas have an interesting history in arts and multimedia imaging. Developments and possible applications of panoramic imaging are briefly sketched in a historic context. The chapter also discusses the question of accuracy, and introduces rotating sensor-line cameras and laser range-finders.

1.1 Panoramas

A panorama is defined by a wide field of view. Obviously, a single panoramic image thus contains more information or features than a “normal” image. This has potential for understanding the geometry of three-dimensional (3D) scenes, or for estimating the locations of panoramic sensors within a 3D scene.

1.1.1 Accurate Panoramic Imaging

Panoramic images are already part of our daily lives. They may be generated with relatively inexpensive tools, and basically by anyone with a digital camera after spending a few minutes reading the manual.

However, the accuracy which is required makes a difference: if panoramic images or 3D models, derived from panoramas, have to satisfy high-quality demands (as in close-range photogrammetry, wide-screen visualization, or in many computer vision applications, such as in industrial inspection or accurate object modeling), then the geometry of the panoramic sensor needs to be understood, sensors have to be calibrated, and image capturing has to follow strict rules. This is the starting point for this book, which is about accurate panoramic ...

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