Measuring Waves and Erosion in Underwater Oil Blobs and Monitoring Other Arbitrary Surfaces with a Kinect v2 Time-of-Flight Camera

TitleMeasuring Waves and Erosion in Underwater Oil Blobs and Monitoring Other Arbitrary Surfaces with a Kinect v2 Time-of-Flight Camera
Publication TypePoster - Conference
AuthorsButkiewicz, T
Conference Name2014 Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Conference DatesDec 15 - Dec 19
Conference LocationSan Francisco, CA

We developed free software that enables researchers to utilize Microsoft’s new Kinect for Windows v2 sensor for a range of coastal and ocean mapping applications, as well as monitoring and measuring experimental scenes.  While the original Kinect device used structured light and had very poor resolution, many geophysical researchers found uses for it in their experiments.  The new next generation of this sensor uses time-of-flight technology, and can produce higher resolution depth measurements with an order of magnitude more accuracy.  It also is capable of measurement through and under water.

An analysis tool in our application lets users quickly select any arbitrary surface in the sensor’s view.  The tools automatically scans the surface, then calibrates and aligns a measurement volume to it.  Depth readings from the sensor are converted into 3D point clouds, and points falling within this volume are projected into surface coordinates.  Raster images can be output which consist of height fields aligned to the surface, generated from these projected measurements and interpolations between them.  Images have a simple 1 pixel = 1 mm resolution and intensity values representing mm in height from the base-plane, which enables easy measurement and calculations to be conducted on the images in other analysis packages.  Single snapshots can be taken manually on demand, or the software can monitor the surface automatically, capturing frames at preset intervals.  This produces time lapse animations of dynamically changing surfaces.

We apply this analysis tool to an experiment studying the behavior of underwater oil in response to flowing water of different speeds and temperatures.  Blobs of viscous oils are placed in a flume apparatus, which circulates water past them.  Over the course of a couple hours, the oil blobs spread out, waves slowly ripple across their surfaces, and erosions occur as smaller blobs break off from the main blob.  All of this can be captured in 3D, with mm accuracy, through the water using the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor and our K2MapKit software.