The 'High Science' of Hyperspectral Imaging Goes Mainstream

June 6, 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.