Lasers from digital cameras

My roommate showed me a cool feature on his camera. You hold a button and it projects a few lazer squiggle patterns in the shape of a square.
It is auto-focus for the camera. Are there units like this (the laser + box pattern) for sale anywhere? I would put one on the robot and use it for distance sensor. Would this pattern be detectable by digital camera in the LIGHT? You cannot see the pattern when it is light, but are digital cameras able to detect it? I know they can see IR
Rich
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com (Rich J.) wrote in message

Hi Rich, I don't know of any for sale, but I saw this interesting link to a "structured light vision" project a while ago: http://home.earthlink.net/%7Eapendragn/actlite.htm
Matt Meerian http://www.geocities.com/matt6ft9 /
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These are designed for low-light camcorders (and cameras), to enable auto-focus in low-contrast situations. The electronics in camera don't really detect the pattern, but rather look for the difference in contrast that the pattern projects.
Under full light conditions the digital camera/camcorder doesn't need this pattern, because there's enough contrast in the scene to set focus. So they don't care if the laser is too weak to project a visible beam in regular light. The laser is not very strong, on purpose.
It would be cool if these cameras actually registered the pattern and did some image processing to set the focus, but that's not how they work. To use them in vision for sensing distance you'd need a sophisitcated lens focusing system to complete the servo mechanism. This would be basically the equivalent of a high-end camera/camcorder lens. Ptetty expensive stuff.
-- Gordon Author: Robot Builder's Bonanza Budget Robotics: http://www.budgetrobotics.com
Rich J. wrote:

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