Talking About Hyperspectral Imaging

Imaging remains a key focus of this site, and will be forever. While I’ll grant you that our original focus on photography alone was a solid one, recently, we have decided to expand what we write about here into more esoteric concerns, as well as those concerning personal health. But that does not take away, for sure, our original focus, which remains key to our heart.

Today I’d like to look at Hyperspectral Imaging – an area that is seldom talked about in the photography community, but one that has a great number of scientific applications that not only help with business, but with society in general.

To explain: hyperspectral imaging basically collects and processes data from across the electromagnetic spectrum in order to analyze a wide variety of things. All of this information is of course not available to the naked eye, and is particularly useful in a lot of different fields, such as agriculture, physics, mineralogy as well as for surveillance. The military surveillance sector remains the key component for hyperspectral imaging companies like Surface Optics, as it is where hyper and multispectral imaging is incredibly popular.

Another important thing to know is that the acquisition and processing of these hyperspectral images is often referred to as imaging spectroscopy.

This a fairly leading edge industry, of course, particularly because of the fact that the equipment tends to be very expensive. This is an “engineers and scientists” movement only, as currently the technology is something that is out of reach for most businesses.

Mineralogy And Mining

But did you know that hyperspectral imaging is particularly important for things like mining and oil drilling? The key, of course, is the fact that changing electromagnetic fields tend to tell you a lot, so a good hyperspectral imager can actually detect the presence of certain minerals – sometimes from incredibly huge distances (i.e. from space). The technology is beginning to be placed in satellites, which allows geologists to gain a rather amazing “macro view” of the terrain they are dealing with. Diamonds, as an example, are particularly easy to spot from airborne images, which makes this particular technology huge for companies in that sector.

Keeping Us Safe

I guess one of the key things that struck me about hyperspectral imaging is the fact that it can actually detect chemical warfare agents. This is something I’m sure the Bush administration could have used, at least before they decided to get us into a massively long war. Although there are those that would say that the moment Desert Storm was lost, Iraqi Freedom was basically in the planning.

All in all, it’s an exciting field, and one that I was pleased to find out about.

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One Response to “Talking About Hyperspectral Imaging”

  1. Jesse says:

    This field really doesn’t get the kind of exposure it should. The hyperspectral field, to me at least, is one of the most interesting realms of science, but it mainly seems to be esoteric and very underused.

    Someday it will come. Once they find that “killer app”, this field will explode.

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