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VTT creates hyperspectral iPhone camera

30 Nov 2016

Users will be able to monitor health, environment and diverse situations by full-spectrum cellphone.

Finland’s VTT Technical Research Centre of has developed what it calls “the world's first hyperspectral mobile device” by the conversion of an iPhone camera into a novel optical sensor.

The developers believe that this innovation will take low-cost spectral imaging to various consumer applications. For example, consumers will be able to use their mobile phones to assess food quality, to monitor their own health, or to inspect their surroundings.

Hyperspectral cameras, which are usually relatively costly, are typically used for demanding medical and industrial applications, and in space and environmental sensing. However, cost-effective optical MEMS (Micro Opto Electro Mechanical Systems)-based spectral technology is enabling the development of mobile applications for environmental sensing and observation from vehicles or drones.

Anna Rissanen, who is heading the research team at VTT, commented, "Consumer benefits could appear in health applications, such as mobile phones that are able to check whether moles are malignant or food is edible. They could also verify product authenticity or identify users based on biometric data. On the other hand, driverless cars could sense and identify environmental features based on the representation of the full optical spectrum at each point of an image."

VTT has now developed a range of new applications for its hyperspectral cameras. These include the diagnosis of skin cancer, environmental sensing based on nanosatellites, various drone applications for precision agriculture and forest monitoring, and there are other projects already underway for the remote measurement of vessel emissions.

Spectral imaging for all

Optical spectral imaging offers a versatile way of sensing various objects and analyzing material properties. Hyperspectral imaging provides access to the optical spectrum at each point of an image, enabling a wide range of measurements. The adjustable tiny MEMS filter is integrated with the camera lens and its adjustment is synchronised with the camera's image capture system.

"Today's smart devices provide huge opportunities for the processing of image data and various cloud services based on spectral data. Mass-produced sensor technology will enable the introduction of hyperspectral imaging in a range of devices in which low-cost camera sensors are currently used," Rissanen added.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland aims to cooperate with companies to commercialise the technology and bring new, innovative optical sensor products to the market.

Photon Engineering, LLCAVANTES BVOcean InsightKnight Optical LtdAUREA TECHNOLOGYBristol Instruments, Inc.Eclipse Optics
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