January 30, 2018

Finnish R&D knowhow leads to innovative imaging solutions

The small VNIR hyperspectral camera is capable of distinguishing raw avocados from ripe.
The small VNIR hyperspectral camera is capable of distinguishing raw avocados from ripe.
VTT

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland says it has developed a new cost-efficient hyperspectral imaging technology that enables more widespread use of artificial intelligence in consumer products.

The hyperspectral camera developed by the state-owned research centre utilises very-near-infrared (VNIR) wavelengths, which are indiscernible to the naked eye but can be detected by the built-in cameras of even entry-level mobile phones.

The spectral data in the wavelength band allow the labelling of properties of various objects in the environment to provide information on aspects such as food safety and product authenticity. The information can be utilised by applications capable of interpreting sensor data to promote the safe and proper functioning of robots, mobile devices, autonomous vehicles and smart home appliances.

With the number of such devices expected to increase, the need for reliable camera information will increase in the future, says Anna Rissanen, the leader of the research team at VTT.

Researcher Antti Näsilä views that the potential of the hyperspectral imaging technology is vast specifically due to its compatibility with low-cost camera optics. Most of the hyperspectral imagers currently available are simply too expensive to be integrated into smart fridges, for example, to measure food freshness. 

“This is a huge advantage because it enables very cost-efficient mass production for these hyperspectral camera sensors,” explains Näsilä. 

VTT recently also announced it has developed a new optics solution for broad thermal imaging with possible future applications in domains such as defence, security, surveillance and building diagnostics.

The solution utilises a monolithic lens element that folds a 360-degree panoramic view on a single sensor matrix, making the use or multiple thermal cameras unnecessary.

“This concept enables the development of affordable and powerful products for the applications of broad horizontal thermal imaging,” tells Kimmo Solehmainen, key account manager at VTT.

 VTT has also created the world’s first mobile hyperspectral device by converting a regular iPhone camera into a new kind of optical sensor.

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