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Deep learning to enable color vision in the dark.


Humans perceive light in the visible spectrum (400-700 nm). Some night vision systems use infrared light that is not perceptible to humans and the images rendered are transposed to a digital display presenting a monochromatic image in the visible spectrum. We sought to develop an imaging algorithm powered by optimized deep learning architectures whereby infrared spectral illumination of a scene could be used to predict a visible spectrum rendering of the scene as if it were perceived by a human with visible spectrum light. This would make it possible to digitally render a visible spectrum scene to humans when they are otherwise in complete "darkness" and only illuminated with infrared light. To achieve this goal, we used a monochromatic camera sensitive to visible and near infrared light to acquire an image dataset of printed images of faces under multispectral illumination spanning standard visible red (604 nm), green (529 nm) and blue (447 nm) as well as infrared wavelengths (718, 777, and 807 nm). We then optimized a convolutional neural network with a U-Net-like architecture to predict visible spectrum images from only near-infrared images. This study serves as a first step towards predicting human visible spectrum scenes from imperceptible near-infrared illumination. Further work can profoundly contribute to a variety of applications including night vision and studies of biological samples sensitive to visible light.

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