Headwall Photonics Blog

Small UAVs - Precision agriculture & hyperspectral remote sensing

Posted by David Bannon on Mon, Apr 09, 2012

Micro Hyperspec UAV Picture 2Offering improvements in agricultural yields and precision farming, hyperspectral sensors allow producers and processors to make the foods we eat safer along with providing the advantages of higher quality and hopefully, better taste.  Based in Massachusetts, Headwall Photonics, designs and manufactures small, lightweight sensors that are deployed aboard airborne platforms ranging from piloted aircraft to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). With experience developed within the military sector, the company has established quite a business enabling the commercial use of very small, cost-effective UAVs for remote sensing and agriculture applications.

In the same way that food-processing lines are evolving from straight-forward machine-vision systems to spectral imaging, many agriculturalists and food producers are moving beyond simple appearance and color measurement to more advanced hyperspectral imaging. The richness of the data collected offers farmers a sense of what to plant, where to plant, and when to harvest. High-value crops such as pecans, grapes, walnuts and others need to be managed with precision to yield a profitable harvest. Nutrient levels, ripeness, and disease conditions can be ‘seen’ by hyperspectral sensors based on the chemical “fingerprint” of the crops rather than on the visual appearance; thus offering the ability to implement cost-effective solutions early in the growth cycle of the harvest.

Since these imaging sensors can be and are rapidly being deployed aboard inexpensive UAVs, hundreds of acres can be surveyed and monitored very quickly. The data-processing power coupled to these hyperspectral sensors means that more actionable crop and agricultural information can be obtained. The result is better overall crop management across the farming and food production industries. Where famine relief is acute, airborne hyperspectral sensors quickly lead to better decisions about what crops to plant, where to plant them, and when to harvest them. The specific ‘spectral signatures’ of diseased plants, contaminants, and ripeness conditions mean that hyperspectral technology can clearly be used to ensure healthier foods for all and a more profitable and timely crop harvest.

As a previous topic, Headwall mentioned an important specialty crop in the United States being grape production and vineyard management. One of Headwall’s hyperspectral customers, VineView Scientific Aerial Imaging, is a company that uses high-resolution, scientifically calibrated data products to assist framers in crop uniformity optimization, irrigation management, and harvest planning. “Hyperspectral data allows us to provide more specific actionable information to our clients who manage high-value crops,” said Dr. Matthew Staid, President of Saint Helena, CA-based VineView. The Headwall airborne hyperspectral sensors can be mounted on small UAVs or manned aircraft and means that VineView cannot only map vigor or stress within crops but can better identify the specific causes of those stresses. 

Headwall continues to advance the agriculture and remote sensing industries through the deployment of cost-effective hyeprspectral sensors that have a positive impact on farmers, food processors, and agricultural research scientists around the world.

To speak with an application engineer, click here ...

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, Airborne, Remote Sensing, SWIR, agriculture

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

Hyperspectral Imaging Heads West!

Posted by Christopher Van Veen on Tue, Jan 31, 2012

Wrap-up from the BiOS and Photonics West conferences in San Francisco...

After a busy week discussing spectrometers, diffraction gratings, and hyperspectral imagers at the conferences, the Headwall Photonics’ application engineering team had some free time to take hyperspectral scans of a few of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks.

Below is a hyperspectral image of the Golden Gate Bridge. The hyperspectral image was taken with Headwall’s Hyperspec RECON imaging sensor, the industry’s first handheld hyperspectral sensor specifically designed for ground-based, military & defense applications. You can see that the spectra of the anti-rust paint on the bridge supports was also found on the metal window supports of the building in the foreground.

hyperspectral image of Golden Gate Bridge

The striking thing about this image is that the bridge is estimated to be greater than 2 miles away from the sensor.

The Hyperspec RECON sensor was a PRISM Award finalist at the Photonics West Conference.  Reconnaissance soldiers will use this rugged, handheld sensor for improved ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) missions.  In deployment mode, the DoD will load mission-specific target signatures into the hyperspectral sensor to detect “objects of interest” within the field of view.

For more information about Hyperspec RECON, click here.

 

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, photonics west, BiOS, PRISM, SPIE

Visit Headwall Photonics at upcoming trade shows!

Posted by Christopher Van Veen on Wed, Jan 18, 2012

Hyperspec Recon

Headwall Photonics will be at THREE important industry conventions later this month...one on the east coast and one on the west coast! Wherever you'll be, pay us a visit!

The first two are the SPIE-sponsored companion events BiOS and Photonics West. They're running consecutively at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. BiOS occurs Saturday and Sunday, January 21-22. Headwall Photonics will be in Booth 8903.

BiOS 2012

 

Photonics West 2012

 

Photonics West occurs Tuesday through Thursday, January 24-26. We’ll be in Booth 903 for that show. We’ll have the latest in hyperspectral imaging solutions on display and operational, including the brand-new Hyperspec Recon. This portable, ruggedized hyperspectral imager is up for an award during Photonics West! It is one of three products nominated for the prestigious 2011 PRISM Award! If you’ll be going to either BiOS or Photonics West (or both!), we’d love to see you!

IFPAC 2012

 

 

 

 

Nearly 3000 miles to the east and during the same week, Headwall Photonics will be exhibiting at the IFPAC Show in Baltimore. It’s the 26th International Forum and Exhibition on Process Analytical Technology, and Headwall’s hyperspectral imaging solutions are producing remarkable results in the food-processing, pharmaceutical, and chemical markets. Our booth at IFPAC is 212, and we look forward to seeing you there!

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, hyperspectral, photonics west, BiOS, IFPAC, PRISM, SPIE

Hyperspectral Imaging Reaches Further than Ever!

Posted by Christopher Van Veen on Wed, Jan 11, 2012

Hyperspectral imaging is reaching into areas that are more mainstream than ever. You can actually 'see what you've been missing' with hyperspectral imaging systems, meaning that they can help solve some of the biggest challenges we face. Food can be made safer, surveillance can be more precise, health-care problems can be detected sooner, and forensic science can reach new levels of precision. Outstanding spectral and spatial resolution is the key, and that’s a function of having high-efficiency, all-original diffraction gratings. Every system built by Headwall Photonics is based upon this core technology.

So how mainstream is mainstream? Hyperspectral imaging systems are being deployed in processing facilities where speed, product quality & safety, and cost-optimization are key drivers. Think of food-processing facilities for specialty crops, other fruits and vegetables, poultry, and fish. All need ways of determining good from bad and pass from fail. Bacteria levels in fish and contamination in fruits and vegetables, for example, are all distinguishable with hyperspectral imaging. And since these red-flag conditions will be found early enough in the process, quality increases and cost decreases.

poultry processing

Other areas of need include health-care and pharmaceutical processing, forensic sciences, chemicals, mining, government surveillance/homeland security, and many more. The beauty of the technology is that it’s more affordable than ever, and easy to set up and use.

pharmaceuticals

Headwall Photonics will be at the BiOS/Photonics West conferences in San Francisco this month (booth 8903 for BiOS and 903 for Photonics West). We’ll also be at the International Forum for Process Analytical Technology (IFPAC) in Baltimore January 23-25. We’ll be at Booth 212 there. Come visit us to learn more about how Hyperspectral Imaging can solve some of your toughest challenges!


Tags: hyperspectral imaging, photonics west, BiOS, IFPAC, diffraction gratings