Computational model for human 3D shape perception from a single specular image
In natural conditions the human visual system can estimate the 3D shape of specular objects even from a single image. Although previous studies suggested that the orientation field plays a key role for 3D shape perception from specular reflections, its computational plausibility and possible mechanisms have not been investigated. In this study, to complement the orientation field information, we first add prior knowledge that objects are illuminated from above and utilize the vertical polarity of the intensity gradient. Then we construct an algorithm that incorporates these two image cues to estimate 3D shapes from a single specular image. We evaluated the algorithm with glossy and mirrored surfaces and found that 3D shapes can be recovered with a high correlation coefficient of around 0.8 with true surface shapes. Moreover, under a specific condition, the algorithm's errors resembled those made by human observers. These findings show that the combination of the orientation field and the vertical polarity of the intensity gradient is computationally sufficient and probably reproduces essential representations used in human shape perception from specular reflections.
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