Structured light vision systems have been successfully used for accurate measurement of 3D surfaces in computer vision. However, their applications are mainly limited to scanning stationary objects so far since tens of images have to be captured for recovering one 3D scene. This paper presents an idea for real-time acquisition of 3D surface data by a specially coded vision system. To achieve 3D measurement for a dynamic scene, the data acquisition must be performed with only a single image. A principle of uniquely color-encoded pattern projection is proposed to design a color matrix for improving the reconstruction efficiency. The matrix is produced by a special code sequence and a number of state transitions. A color projector is controlled by a computer to generate the desired color patterns in the scene. The unique indexing of the light codes is crucial here for color projection since it is essential that each light grid be uniquely identified by incorporating local neighborhoods so that 3D reconstruction can be performed with only local analysis of a single image. A scheme is presented to describe such a vision processing method for fast 3D data acquisition. Practical experimental performance is provided to analyze the efficiency of the proposed methods.