When shown two completely different images for each eye, the insects could match up areas that were changing in both. However, the only known insect to have 3D vision or stereo vision is the praying mantis. A team of scientists at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, wanted to see whether the 3D vision of praying mantis works in the same way as ours.
These glasses aren't the bulky plastic things you might wear when going to see a James Cameron film, but are instead blobs of honey, which the scientists placed over the bugs' eyes in order to allow them to perceive a 3D visual display on a 2D screen.
Some of the same group of scientists had created a spectacle in 2016 by outfitting praying mantises with miniature 3D specs.
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Praying mantises have a talent that no other insect with compound eyes can perform.
Researchers have discovered the novel way that praying mantises' 3D vision works. 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. The first movie displayed video clips of a moving prey, while the second movie included static patterns of dots and a moving spiral of dots.
In their insect 3D cinema, they could show the mantis a movie of tasty prey, apparently hovering right in front of the mantis.
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The simplicity of the mantis' 3D vision makes it a good model for use in robots. We do this by matching up the details of the picture seen in each eye. The insect can not see a still image in 3D; its stereo vision works only with moving objects.
Apart from looking quite cool, the praying mantis shared its novel means of utilizing its 3D vision. The team found mantises don't bother about the details of the picture but just look for places where the picture is changing. Additionally, they even tried to capture it.
According to their findings, mantises arrive at their 3D perception by processing visual information differently than people do, an unusual technique that allows mantises to see some objects in 3D even when humans can not. "In mantises, it is probably created to answer the question, 'Is there prey at the right distance for me to catch?'"
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They're hoping this will help to develop better robots. The stereo algorithms needed to interpret a 3-D world can guzzle computing power. "Since insect brains are so tiny, their form of stereo vision can't require much computer processing", said Dr Ghaith Tarawneh at Newcastle University's school of engineering, who was also involved in the research.