Optics is a branch of physics that deals with the study of light and its interactions with matter. It encompasses the study of the behavior, properties, and applications of light, including both visible and non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Optics is a broad field, and it can be categorized into various sub-disciplines, including geometric optics, physical optics, and quantum optics.


OpEnCam: Optical Encryption Camera

Lensless cameras multiplex the incoming light before it is recorded by the sensor. This ability to multiplex the incoming light has led to the development of ultra-thin, high-speed, and single-shot 3D imagers. Recently, there have been various attempts at demonstrating another useful aspect of lensless cameras – their ability to preserve the privacy of a scene by capturing encrypted measurements. However, existing lensless camera designs suffer numerous inherent privacy vulnerabilities. To demonstrate this, we develop the first comprehensive attack model for encryption cameras, and propose OpEnCam — a novel lensless OPtical ENcryption CAmera design that overcomes these vulnerabilities. OpEnCam encrypts the incoming light before capturing it using the modulating ability of optical masks. Recovery of the original scene from an OpEnCam measurement is possible only if one has access to the camera’s encryption key, defined by the unique optical elements of each camera. Our OpEnCam design introduces two major improvements over existing lensless camera designs – (a) the use of two co-axially located optical masks, one stuck to the sensor and the other a few millimeters above the sensor and (b) the design of mask patterns, which are derived heuristically from signal processing ideas. We show, through experiments, that OpEnCam is robust against a range of attack types while still maintaining the imaging capabilities of existing lensless cameras. We validate the efficacy of OpEnCam using simulated and real data. Finally, we built and tested a prototype in the lab for proof-of-concept.

Learning Phase Mask for Privacy-Preserving Passive Depth Estimation

With over a billion sold each year, cameras are not only becoming ubiquitous, but are driving progress in a wide range of domains such as mixed reality, robotics, and more. However, severe concerns regarding the privacy implications of camera-based solutions currently limit the range of environments where cameras can be deployed. The key question we address is: Can cameras be enhanced with a scalable solution to preserve users’ privacy without degrading their machine intelligence capabilities? Our solution is a novel end-to-end adversarial learning pipeline in which a phase mask placed at the aperture plane of a camera is jointly optimized with respect to privacy and utility objectives. We conduct an extensive design space analysis to determine operating points with desirable privacy-utility tradeoffs that are also amenable to sensor fabrication and real-world constraints. We demonstrate the first working prototype that enables passive depth estimation while inhibiting face identification.