Photonics/Optics

Thermal Chassis Camera

Sierra-Olympic Technologies, Inc. (Hood River, OR) recently introduced the Vinden CZ 320 continuous zoom thermal chassis camera. The first of two camera models in the series, the Vinden CZ 320 is offered in both 60 Hz and 9 Hz frame rates for the widest possible range of domestic and international customers. The system provides 3X optical zoom and 2X digital zoom, for a zoom range of 8.9 degrees to 1.5 degrees. The system is managed by an innovative custom processor which provides critical image processing functions, with extensions for edge analytics.

Posted in: Products, Products, Photonics

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NASA Team Proposes Laser for Orbital Debris Tracking

Barry Coyle and Paul Stysley, laser researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, want to develop a method to define and track orbital debris using laser ranging — a promising approach that could overcome shortfalls with passive optical and radar techniques, which debris trackers use today to locate and track dead satellites, spacecraft components, and other remnants orbiting in low-Earth or geosynchronous orbits where most space assets reside.Inspired by an Australian study that found laser tracking increased the accuracy of debris ranging by a factor of 10 when compared with other methods, Coyle and Stysley now "want to reproduce the results from this paper on a larger scale," using Goddard’s Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory (GGAO). The GGAO satellite laser-ranging team, led by Goddard’s Jan McGarry, has advanced laser-ranging techniques using satellites equipped with retro-reflectors, becoming world leaders in the field.GGAO’s 48-inch telescope, which transmits outgoing and receives incoming laser beams, was built in the early 1970s as a research and development and testing facility for laser ranging, lidar, and astronomical instruments. The facility has ranged to spacecraft at planetary distances and has been used to provide on-orbit calibration of some of Goddard’s altimetry spacecraft. NASA also used the facility in 2005 to determine the performance of the laser-altimeter instrument aboard its MESSENGER spacecraft as it flew past Earth during its sojourn to Mercury.Once the team demonstrates ranging with a target not equipped with the retro-reflector, it would like to implement the technique in a global network of ground-based laser observatories to observe and more accurately track debris, thus aiding the world’s current debris-tracking efforts.Although it’s difficult removing the material itself, NASA mission operators can minimize its impact on operational space assets. They can move non-operational spacecraft to less populated orbits to remove the threat to new missions or allow dead craft to re-enter the atmosphere, where they burn up upon entry. What’s essential is that these assets are tracked and monitored to protect active and future missions from potentially harmful collisions, Coyle said.SourceAlso: Learn about a Debris & Ice Mapping Analysis Tool.

Posted in: News, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics

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Biomimetic Photodetector “Sees” in Color

Rice University researchers have created a CMOS-compatible, biomimetic color photodetector that directly responds to red, green, and blue light in much the same way the human eye does. The new device uses an aluminum grating that can be added to silicon photodetectors with CMOS technology.

Posted in: News, Photonics, Detectors, Sensors

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'Cloaking' Device Uses Ordinary Lenses to Hide Objects

Inspired perhaps by Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, scientists have recently developed several ways to hide objects from view. The latest effort, begun at the University of Rochester, not only overcomes some of the limitations of previous devices, but also uses inexpensive, readily available materials in a novel configuration.Forgoing specialized components, John Howell, a professor of physics at the University of Rochester, and graduate student Joseph Choi developed a combination of four standard lenses that keeps the object hidden as the viewer moves up to several degrees away from the optimal viewing position.“This is the first device that we know of that can do three-dimensional, continuously multidirectional cloaking, which works for transmitting rays in the visible spectrum,” said Choi, a PhD student at Rochester’s Institute of Optics.While their device is not quite like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, Howell had some thoughts about potential applications, including using cloaking to effectively let a surgeon “look through his hands to what he is actually operating on." The same principles could be applied to a truck to allow drivers to see through blind spots on their vehicles. SourceAlso: Learn about ELID Grinding of Large Aspheres.

Posted in: News, Surgical Robotics/Instruments, Optics, Photonics, Automotive

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Researchers Equip Robot with Novel Tactile Sensor

Researchers at MIT and Northeastern University have equipped a robot with a novel tactile sensor that lets it grasp a USB cable draped freely over a hook and insert it into a USB port.The sensor is an adaptation of a technology called GelSight, which was developed by the lab of Edward Adelson, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Vision Science at MIT, and first described in 2009. The new sensor isn’t as sensitive as the original GelSight sensor, which could resolve details on the micrometer scale. But it’s smaller — small enough to fit on a robot’s gripper — and its processing algorithm is faster, so it can give the robot feedback in real time.A GelSight sensor — both the original and the new, robot-mounted version — consists of a slab of transparent, synthetic rubber coated on one side with a metallic paint. The rubber conforms to any object it’s pressed against, and the metallic paint evens out the light-reflective properties of diverse materials, making it much easier to make precise optical measurements.In the new device, the gel is mounted in a cubic plastic housing, with just the paint-covered face exposed. The four walls of the cube adjacent to the sensor face are translucent, and each conducts a different color of light — red, green, blue, or white — emitted by light-emitting diodes at the opposite end of the cube. When the gel is deformed, light bounces off of the metallic paint and is captured by a camera mounted on the same cube face as the diodes.From the different intensities of the different-colored light, the algorithms developed by Adelson’s team can infer the three-dimensional structure of ridges or depressions of the surface against which the sensor is pressed. Source Read other Sensors tech briefs.

Posted in: News, LEDs, Optics, Photonics, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, Sensors

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Unique Camera Gauge System Controls Spring Manufacturing

Efficient and accurate operations are vital to the success of today’s manufacturer. Newcomb Spring, a manufacturer of custom springs, wire forms and stampings, is continually working to improve their production processes. The company has also seen an increasing number of requests for reports that detail the compliance of completed orders. Newcomb’s in-house Research and Development (R&D) Department is tasked with developing and building new technologies and equipment to solve unique challenges as well as improve overall operations and efficiency. Recently, Newcomb Spring introduced its own camera gauge system, developed by its R&D team, which was designed to provide high-speed manufacturing with automatic adjustments, extremely high levels of compliance, and reportable accuracy unmatched in the industry.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Photonics

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Securing and Validating Critical Vision Data

Manufacturing companies are placing increasing emphasis on data security throughout their operations to protect confidential data and to validate that their systems are protected against unauthorized and unwanted changes. The critical role that vision plays in many manufacturing processes makes it essential that system security be improved for vision applications. A new generation of vision-specific security tools offers improvements in access control, change tracking, auditing, and general network security to help ensure the integrity of vision applications while at the same time protecting data confidentiality.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Applications, Photonics

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