Three-Filters-to-Normal: An Accurate and Ultrafast Surface Normal Estimator

Over the past decade, significant efforts have been made to improve the trade-off between speed and accuracy of surface normal estimators (SNEs). This paper introduces an accurate and ultrafast SNE for structured range data. The proposed approach computes surface normals by simply performing three filtering operations, namely, two image gradient filters (in horizontal and vertical directions, respectively) and a mean/median filter, on an inverse depth image or a disparity image. Despite the simplicity of the method, no similar method already exists in the literature. In our experiments, we created three large-scale synthetic datasets (easy, medium and hard) using 24 3-dimensional (3D) mesh models. Each mesh model is used to generate 1800--2500 pairs of 480x640 pixel depth images and the corresponding surface normal ground truth from different views. The average angular errors with respect to the easy, medium and hard datasets are 1.6 degrees, 5.6 degrees and 15.3 degrees, respectively. Our C++ and CUDA implementations achieve a processing speed of over 260 Hz and 21 kHz, respectively. Our proposed SNE achieves a better overall performance than all other existing computer vision-based SNEs. Our datasets and source code are publicly available at: sites.google.com/view/3f2n.