The use of patterned light for 3D imaging and movement tracking has been in the last decade object of experimental investigations for industrial, scientific and consumer applications. In this paper, we demonstrate the functionality of a compact silicon microsystem for patterned light generation suitable for 3D imaging. It incorporates a single-axis, torsional MEMS mirror for steering a near infrared beam on a diffractive silicon microstructure that projects light patterns on the target. We here report images, acquired with a CMOS camera, of the detected light patterns realized with different diffractive elements. As an example of application, we have illuminated three-dimensional objects with a generated line pattern and then detected the deformation of the projected lines with the same camera. By image processing, from the line deformation we have estimated the object depth that was found in agreement with the geometrical size.
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