writes with this excerpt from Hot Hardware (linking to a video demonstration): "Creating 3D maps and worlds can be extremely labor intensive and time consuming. Also, the final result might not be all that accurate or realistic.
A new technique developed by scientists at The University of Manchester's School of Computer Science and Dolby Canada, however, might make capturing depth and textures for 3D surfaces as simple as shooting two pictures with a digital camera — one with flash and one without. First an image of a surface is captured without flash. The problem is that the different colors of a surface also reflect light differently, making it difficult to determine if the brightness difference is a function of depth or color.
By taking a second photo with flash, however, the accurate colors of all visible portions of the surface can be captured. The two captured images essentially become a reflectance map (albedo) and a depth map (height field)."