Helical objects occur in medicine, biology, cosmetics, nanotechnology, and engineering. Extracting a 3D parametric curve from a 2D image of a helical object has many practical applications, in particular being able to extract metrics such as tortuosity, frequency, and pitch. We present a method that is able to straighten the image object and derive a robust 3D helical curve from peaks in the object boundary. The algorithm has a small number of stable parameters that require little tuning, and the curve is validated against both synthetic and real-world data. The results show that the extracted 3D curve comes within close Hausdorff distance to the ground truth, and has near identical tortuosity for helical objects with a circular profile. Parameter insensitivity and robustness against high levels of image noise are demonstrated thoroughly and quantitatively.
Willcocks, C., Jackson, P. T., Nelson, C. J., & Obara, B. (2016). Extracting 3D parametric curves from 2D images of helical objects. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 39(9), 1757-1769. https://doi.org/10.1109/tpami.2016.2613866