Intellectual property patent status

Until now, it has been impossible for a single camera to accurately monitor a broad spectral range (the range of wavelengths that the sensor in a camera can detect) to be used alone in practical industry applications and processes, and costly mistakes have been common. A new technology enables precise monitoring across a wide spectral range where only one camera needs to be used, transforming user capabilities.

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Across a range of industries – from manufacturing, to agricultural, to waste management, and more – camera monitoring is crucial to track progress, spot issues that need to be addressed, and for organisation and identification purposes in productions and processing.

However, the limitations of previous options on the market meant costs and equipment were increased for a lower quality result. Multiple cameras or filters were needed to monitor a wide enough spectral range, making the systems susceptible to image degradation from vibrations and movement. This reduced the resolution and reliability, causing mistakes and misidentifications.

There was a significant need for a single camera to be able to do the work alone with an improved range of accuracy, to avoid the errors caused by multiple pieces of equipment’s combined results.

The solution

Engineers at Dstl have created a new camera technology – the multispectral image filter – that allows the work previously completed by multiple cameras to be done by just one camera – reducing equipment, costs, maintenance, and improving the quality and accuracy of results.

The technology enables signals the camera picks up to be filtered and refined down in real-time to identify the correct object, with a significantly enhanced imaging solution. This means the user can identify precisely what is needed without the risk of misidentification, and subsequently can make rapid decisions to resolve issues as they occur. This functionality has not been possible in a single camera for such a wide spectral range before.

Key benefits

  • This camera technology allows humans to see beyond the abilities of the naked eye to get advanced warnings of issues and take corrective actions. This reduces errors, time needed, and the cost of processes.
  • The technology can be used in many applications, due to its usability across a spectrum of wavelengths – including visible, short-wave/near infrared, mid-wave, and long-wave infrared (thermal).
  • It improves safety by correctly identifying and classifying threats when monitoring an area of interest.
  • It is simple to manufacture at a quarter of the cost of other pixelated filter technologies.
  • The technology can be incorporated into commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) cameras, making it accessible to a wider range of end users.
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Potential applications

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Manufacturing applications

Real-time monitoring of processes can help to identify defects or contamination in products or equipment, allowing processes to be stopped, checked, and rectified before significant time or money is wasted.

Agriculture and farming applications

A single camera on a moving platform can monitor crop growth and health. Some signals are not visible to the human eye, so utilising this technology enables farmers and breeders to identify signatures of stress or disease in plants, or detect moisture and fertiliser levels, to take early action to prevent losses and increase crop yield.

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Waste management and recycling applications

Plastics can be sorted based on their type and colour using cameras and sensors. Currently, black and dark coloured plastics are difficult to sort due to a lack of reflection; however, this technology can identify and sort different even black and dark plastics on a fast-moving sorting system using affordable COTS camera systems. This increases the amount of plastic able to be recycled, and significantly reduces the amount going to landfill.

Military applications

Using a single camera means that systems used to monitor areas of interest and identify threats can be made small, discreet, and precise, while being unaffected by vibration or motion of soldiers and vehicles, improving safety and practicality.

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