Specs: the critters wearing 3D glasses!

Specs: the critters wearing 3D glasses!

Specs: the critters wearing 3D glasses!

If you thought praying mantises already look pretty cool, wait till you see them in these stunning shades.

In order to determine whether the praying mantis' 3D vision works in the same way as the humans', researchers from the Newcastle University in the United Kingdom outfitted a praying mantis with its very own 3D glasses, which were attached onto the mantis using beeswax.

They affixed tiny glasses to a mantis' head with beeswax, like old-fashioned 3D glasses with a blue filter on one eye and a green one on the other.

This was the case even when each eye looked at two completely different images - an ability humans don't share. The researchers studied the response of the insects to 3D video of prey insects which they tried to catch. The illusion was convincing enough that the bugs kept lunging for the virtual food.

3D or stereo vision helps us work out the distances to the things we see.

But the bugs fared differently under other circumstances.

We, as humans, are very good at seeing in 3D, as far as still images are concerned, because we match up the details of the picture produced by each of our two eyes.

The praying mantises, it turned out, did not suffer from the same problem.

On the other hand, based on their hunting style, praying mantises might be better served by a system that picks up only the movements of nearby prey. Mantises only attack moving prey, and so their 3D vision works fundamentally different.

"This is a completely new form of 3D vision as it is based on change over time instead of static images", Dr Vivek Nityananda, behavioural ecologist at Newcastle University, said in a statement.

"In mantises it is probably created to answer the question 'is there prey at the right distance for me to catch?" said Dr. Vivek Nityananda from Newcastle University, coauthor of the study.

Particularly interesting is just how far the mantises can push this focus.

This unusual discovery could have robotic applications.

According to fellow researcher Jenny Read, this is an efficient method of 3-D vision and could have implications for algorithms used in machines such as drones.

It is possible that 3D vision in mantises is closer to that of vertebrates, where disparities between the positions of an object's image in the two eyes can be detected and used to reveal the object's position, even when the object is camouflaged and is invisible in either eye individually.

Today, robots that use stereo vision to navigate their surroundings do so analogously to humans.

Because insects have such tiny brains, this information could help figure out how to develop computer vision that requires relatively little computing power, the researchers said. "This means it could find useful applications in low-power autonomous robots".

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