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Shape From Sky: Polarimetric Normal Recovery Under the Sky
The sky exhibits a unique spatial polarization pattern by scattering the unpolarized sun light. Just like insects use this unique angular pattern to navigate, we use it to map pixels to directions on the sky. That is, we show that the unique polarization pattern encoded in the polarimetric appearance of an object captured under the sky can be decoded to reveal the surface normal at each pixel. We derive a polarimetric reflection model of a diffuse plus mirror surface lit by the sun and a clear sky. This model is used to recover the per-pixel surface normal of an object from a single polarimetric image or from multiple polarimetric images captured under the sky at different times of the day. We experimentally evaluate the accuracy of our shape-from-sky method on a number of real objects of different surface compositions. The results clearly show that this passive approach to fine-geometry recovery that fully leverages the unique illumination made by nature is a viable option for 3D sensing. With the advent of quad-Bayer polarization chips, we believe the implications of our method span a wide range of domains.