3 photos of storage units
From left, the basketball in front is in focus, the storage unit is in focus and an all-in-focus image obtained by the proposed 3D camera and computational reconstruction method.

When he joined the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Engineering in 2019, electrical engineering Assistant Professor Il Yong Chun didn’t just bring a great smile and a wide range of experience in multidisciplinary research. He also brought with him a project that is being used to improve the quality of research in Hawaiʻi.

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Il Yong Chun

Using transparent focal stacks and sophisticated data science solutions, he and his colleagues at the University of Michigan developed a high-quality three-dimensional (3D) camera that can accurately determine an object’s distance from the lens.

Seeing a great opportunity to solve real-world problems with his background in data science (i.e., machine learning/artificial intelligence and optimization) and imaging science (i.e., compressed sensing), Chun is continuing to work on this project at UH Mānoa. He is improving data science solutions via using an iterative neural network, multimodal deep learning, etc.

“The information produced by the camera is critical in biological imaging, autonomous driving, facial recognition and virtual reality,” said Chun. “In biological imaging, for example, it is important for researchers to see 3D volume; in autonomous driving, determining an object’s distance is crucial to safety.”

By bringing his work to Hawaiʻi, Chun is aiding the work of local companies and research teams at UH. Examples include the Queen’s Medical Center (QMC), the UH/QMC MRI Research Center, Hawaiʻi Dental Service and UH Mānoa electrical engineering professor Aaron Ohta‘s group.

Chun’s paper, “Ranging and light field imaging with transparent photodetectors,” was recently published in Nature Photonics. He will present his paper as a lecture this May at the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing in Barcelona, Spain—the world’s largest conference on signal processing and its applications.