Headwall Photonics Blog

The 'High Science' of Hyperspectral Imaging Goes Mainstream

Posted by Jeff Paquette on Wed, Jun 06, 2012

Hyperspectral instruments often conjure up images of ‘high science,’ where complex instruments are tended to by white-jacketed specialists. While the instruments themselves are very precise and highly engineered, Headwall Photonics is taking complexity out while putting exceptional performance in.

Application areas for hyperspectral imaging are numerous: forensics, biotechnology, high-speed inspection, color measurement, pharmaceuticals, and airborne remote sensing are just some of them. And of course, NASA-led military, reconnaissance, and remote-sensing missions became the catalyst for this technology in the first place.

Poultry ProcessingThanks to efforts led by Headwall to drive cost and complexity out while improving optical resolution, Hyperspectral imaging technology is now emerging as a very useful process/analytical tool in the automation of food safety and quality inspection.

Because hyperspectral imaging sensors provide performance beyond traditional machine-vision cameras, the USDA is taking notice. The USDA seeks to modernize poultry inspection in the United States, and hyperspectral imaging is one area of particular interest to them. The technology can be deployed to detect diseases, physical contaminants or fecal matter. High-speed poultry-processing facilities represent one valuable application area, but hyperspectral imaging can be deployed for any high-value valuable food product.

Since these ‘red-flag’ conditions can be catalogued with respect to their spectral ‘signatures,’ a hyperspectral sensor can do its job quickly and silently by comparing what it sees against this spectral library.  The ripeness level of a cranberry, for example, can be tagged with its spectral signature so that only good product passes through the line.

Processing and inspection speeds go up, product quality is higher than ever, and existing inspection regulations are easily met.

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, hyperspectral, Headwall Photonics, food processing

Satellite Hyperspectral Sensing Boosts Environmental Research

Posted by David Bannon on Wed, May 16, 2012

Last week, I participated in the bi-annual Earth Observation Business Network 2012 (EOBN) conference, a small group of industry leaders brought together in Vancouver, British Columbia and sponsored by MDA of Canada.  A tip of the hat to John Hornsby, MDA VP of GeoSpatial Strategies and his team, who hosted a very informative and interactive conference.

This year’s EOBN theme was "Operational Decision Making From Earth Observation." The conference featured application sessions from both government and industry leaders who addressed the tactical impact and requirements of satellite and airborne imagery. From aviation to land surveillance/intelligence to the Arctic and Antarctic, leading end-users and providers offered their unique perspective of capabilities and requirements for remote sensing and earth sciences.

It is clear that remote sensing capability is not only a critical and strategic capability for nations, but also for commercial satellite providers developing advanced data products and imaging services. The challenges of working within such harsh environments as the Arctic Circle – whether maritime transport or mineral exploration – require data products that are fused with satellite and spectral imagery.

Arctic Exploration

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Source: CBC

With our current ability to provide hyperspectral sensor payloads for small satellites covering the VNIR (380 -1000 nm) and SWIR (950 – 1000 nm), it is clear that Headwall will continue to play an expanding role in the development of remote sensing capabilities throughout the world.

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, Headwall Photonics, Airborne, Remote Sensing, SWIR, VNIR, Satellites

Hyperspectral Imaging & Agriculture: A Perfect Match

Posted by Christopher Van Veen on Wed, May 02, 2012

Spectral imaging and agriculture seems to be a perfect match. Technologies and techniques such as hyperspectral in-line inspection and Raman imaging instrumentation are well suited to very high-speed processing environments such as those found in agricultural processing plants for meat, poultry, and specialty crops.

USDAHeadwall recently had the opportunity to meet with USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan at the Washington DC offices of the USDA.  As stated by Dr. Merrigan, a very high priority for the USDA are issues pertaining to improved food safety and quality all within an environment of challenging fiscal alternatives.  Given the introduction of the Food Safety Modernization Act and USDA-led initiatives such as the HAACP-Based Inspection Pilot (also known as HIMP), there is an ever-growing industry requirement for high-speed machine vision instruments that are capable of supporting food safety and food quality standards accurately and cost-effectively.

Hyperspec InspectorHeadwall has a unique research and development relationship with the USDA whereby Headwall develops hyperspectral instrumentation specifically for in-line inspection in agriculture applications.  These represent very harsh environments, and having a stable spectral imaging platform that addresses multiple spectral ranges is very important for critical processing and inspection applications.  One of these is Hyperspec Inspector (shown), which is a complete hyperspectral imaging solution meant precisely for this kind of industrial environment. Strong collaboration and joint research with the USDA has strongly positioned Headwall’s technology as a proven and cost-effective alternative for food processors.

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Tags: hyperspectral imaging, hyperspectral, Headwall Photonics, Sensors, agriculture

Headwall's Hyperpectral Sensors Soar at DSS

Posted by Christopher Van Veen on Thu, Apr 26, 2012

The Defense, Security + Sensing (DSS) show moved from its traditional Orlando venue to Baltimore this year. Flush with technology-driven agencies, the Baltimore-Washington area is a natural magnet for a show such as DSS.

DSS 2012 BaltimoreThe first two days at DSS have been amazing for Headwall, with visitors drawn by the sight of the Insitu 'ScanEagle' UAV. This impressive aircraft is one example of a typical platform that can easily deploy Headwall's 'Micro Hyperspec' hyperspectral sensor. Size, weight, and power-consumption specifications (SWaP) for any payload need to be carefully balanced when it comes to deployment on any mission-critical UAV. So far during the three-day DSS show, the ability to demonstrate our lightweight sensor aboard ScanEagle is proving the point better than any photograph could!

Closer to the ground, Hyperspec RECON is drawing tremendous interest from technologists who need a portable, simple-to-use hyperspectral sensor that can be deployed on the battlefield. Hyperspec RECON can render a 6" x 6" hyperspectral scene at a distance of 1.5 km and process that image data in only a few seconds. Using a spectral library of known signatures, RECON is able to immediately identify them within the field of view. Aberration-corrected imaging technology combined with robust, fast data-processing software give our troops immediate, accurate, and actionable hyperspectral data in the field of battle.

DSS wraps up later today at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, hyperspectral, Headwall Photonics, Airborne, DSS, Defense

Hyperspectral Imaging Heads to Baltimore for DSS!

Posted by Christopher Van Veen on Fri, Apr 20, 2012

DSSDSS--Defense, Security + Sensing--is the world's largest unclassified event for defense, security, and sensing applications for industry and the environment, and we'll be there in Booth 2220 starting Tuesday April 24.

DSS relocated from Orlando to Baltimore for 2012. The move from Orlando is a good one because it will bring in more experts than ever in the fields of homeland security, defense, and environmental sensing. Here, they'll gain visibility for their work and products and receive face-to-face feedback from their peers.

Hyperspec RECON

DSS is a premiere event on the Headwall Photonics show schedule. New this year will be a product called Hyperspec RECON, which is a portable yet rugged hyperspectral sensor that can render a 6" x 6" target at distances of up to 1.5km. We'll have the RECON system on display and operational, so be sure to take a look!

One of the most critical applications for hyperspectral technology in the field of defense, security and sensing is aboard airborne platforms such as the ScanEagle from Insitu. We'll have an actual ScanEagle in our booth, courtesy ofScanEagle by Insitu Insitu, to demonstrate how our lightweight Micro Hyperspec sensors can be deployed in packages where size, weight, and power (SWaP) need to be optimized.

We look forward to seeing you at DSS starting April 24!

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, hyperspectral, Headwall Photonics, Airborne, DSS, Defense, Micro Hyperspec, Sensing, Security, Insitu

Surveying the Land Below: Hyperspectral Sensors go Airborne

Posted by Christopher Van Veen on Wed, Mar 14, 2012

Remote sensing is a very important application and perhaps the 'killer app' for hyperspectral imaging technology, particularly when it comes to airborne scientific techniques. With traditional roots in research, Headwall’s airborne hyperspectral sensors are considered an industry-standard research tool and have been routinely utilized for the study of such topics as climate change, environmental mapping and monitoring, biodiversity research, and studies of the effects of carbon emissions on the environment.
 
Headwall’s experience is that it often takes approximately 10 years for technology to roll out of the military/defense markets and be ready for commercial applications. One particular market note is the use of Headwall’s hyperspectral sensors for commercial remote sensing applications. This is proving to be a very large and significant market. For example, one of Headwall’s customers is VineView, a commercial airborne company located in California with a focus on providing precision agriculture information and aerial imagery to more than 800 vineyards in the western United States. Dr. Matthew Staid, President of VineView Scientific Aerial Imaging, is a leader in the utilization of hyperspectral imaging for the management of 'high-value crops.'  His company provides airborne remote sensing services to the winegrape industry consisting of hyperspectral, thermal, and infrared sensing data for precision farming and profitable agricultural management of vineyards.
 
VineViewVineView’s sensor needs are focused in two key areas – very high spatial resolution coupled with extremely fast data processing.  One key attribute of hyperspectral imaging is the amount of spectral and spatial data collected. To capitalize on the inherent value of hyperspectral data requires an ability to rapidly process all this data into a geo-rectified data set. Airborne hyperspectral solutions require high performance, aberration-corrected sensors as well as hyperspectral data-processing units to collect and 'package' this data.  These rapid data-acquisition capabilities allow VineView to expand aerial services beyond the winegrape industry and into areas such as citrus production, tree nuts, and cotton.
 
With the ability to 'see' beyond the visible spectrum of 380nm to 780nm, Headwall’s hyperspectral imagers are readily available and optimized for many different spectral regions to a base of worldwide customers. One common configuration deployed by a number of remote sensing customers is the use of a Hyperspec VNIR sensor and a Hyperspec SWIR sensor to cover the broad spectrum of 380 to 2500 nm.
Tags: Headwall Photonics, Airborne, Remote Sensing, Sensors, VineView

Savvy About Hyperspectral Imaging? We Should Talk!

Posted by Christopher Van Veen on Wed, Mar 07, 2012

When the world decides to beat a path to your door, what do you do? You hire great people! We’re poised for big things in 2012 and terrific people are needed to help us get there. Take a look at our just-posted career opportunities!

Hyperspectral ApplicationsAt Headwall, our hyperspectral imaging products are based on some of the coolest optical and sensing technology around. Instruments you only saw in laboratories are now doing great things all over the world because they’re smaller and more affordable than ever. Hyperspectral imaging is helping to make crops we plant and harvest safer and more plentiful. Forensic science is getting to the root cause faster thanks to our technology. From reconnaissance and surveillance aboard UAVs to health-care and remote sensing, hyperspectral imaging is making whole new worlds possible.

We're looking for talented people who can fill these roles:

You'll be working with extraordinarily bright people at our headquarters facility in north-central Massachusetts, about an hour west of Boston. You'll be contributing to the advancement and deployment of our remarkable technology, which is already in widespread use around the globe.

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, hyperspectral, Headwall Photonics, Fitchburg, Careers

ISO9001: Focus on Quality not a passing fad

Posted by David Bannon on Thu, Feb 16, 2012

Earlier this week, Headwall successfully completed its re-certification audit for ISO 9001:2008. We see it as a proud milestone rather than a passing fad, because Quality does matter to us! The audit was conducted by NQA, a prestigious ISO audit and surveillance company.Quality is a necessary and functionality pervasive attribute when you are an analytical instrument manufacturer such as Headwall.  As our business relies on repeat OEM business or high volume spectrometer manufacture, customers expect and demand a very predictable supply chain partner.

NQAFor Headwall’s core business of designing and manufacturing advanced spectral instrumentation that will be deployed at the heart of mission-critical applications, the inherent corporate ability to understand and quantify measures of performance is a unique differentiator.
 
Surely, developing and maintaining an ISO quality system requires organizational focus and discipline and some may be inclined to believe it is more expensive to do so … but that is short-sighted.  The costs of not implementing a product quality system are pervasively felt with product returns, poor and unresponsive technical support, low manufacturing yields, and most importantly, dissatisfied customers.
 
food processingHeadwall sells into a very diverse and critical set of applications where product reliability is key – NIR in-line process analysis, handheld color measurement devices, raw material screening for pharmaceuticals, spectral imaging of food and agriculture products, or airborne hyperspectral sensors – and all of these environments demand traceability of product and verifiable work instructions to support product quality standards.
 
Headwall will proudly post our ISO9001:2008 certificate but the real benefit is being able to deliver on our promises to customers and then being able to prove it to them.
 

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, hyperspectral, Headwall Photonics, food processing, ISO9001:2008