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Detecting What We Can’t See with Photonics

A new Multi Spectral Imaging camera uncovers invisible danger.


A group of European scientists are creating a tool that can reveal information that the human eye can’t see, such as poisonous gasses and fire sources through a dense fog. The surveillance camera uses new photonics technology that will reduce coastal rescue times in low visibility conditions, target pollution and keep people safer when working underground.

The camera, called SEERS, is the size of a shoebox, and uses Multi Spectral Imaging, a process that captures the same image at different frequencies from the electromagnetic spectrum.

And, this is important, why? Because the the World Health Organization estimated that in 2014 nearly 600,000 deaths were a result of air pollution in Europe, and with monitoring of civil infrastructures being an important area for video surveillance equipment and services in the future, this device could play a key role in high-tech safety and security.

Based on CMOS compatible FPA manufacturing technology, the device is equipped with integrated computational imaging. It has no need for cooling and can process the images in real-time, said project coordinator, Anton Garcia-Diaz

This is not just good news for coastal and traffic surveillance but also for the future of safety in tunnels and the underground tube train network. "Accidents in tunnels, while rare, are extremely serious when they do happen. Responding quickly and in a targeted manner is vital. We expect rescue and response times will be cut significantly with the SEERS camera," Garcia-Diaz said. Indeed, the future of photonics holds tremendous promise.

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