An interview with, Rich Zacaroli describing hyperspectral imaging technology and the research and industry applications of this technique, conducted at Photonics West 2019. Please define what is meant by the term “hyperspectral”.
Hyperspectral technology takes in incoming light and divides it up into many discreet, very narrow, very fine color bands that are not distinguishable or discernible with the naked eye. You cannot see them with the naked eye or any other sensor.
This enables visualization of very subtle color differences. For example, this allows you to detect stress in vegetation before it is detectable with the naked eye, when you can still do something about it. That stress in vegetation might be due to problems like irrigation irregularities and lack of fertilizers.
It also enables the visualization of skin problems, perhaps diseases or things underneath the skin that you cannot see with any other instrumentation. It also enables the visualization of defects in food products such as produce, meats, vegetables and fruits that are not discernible by the naked eye or using any other kind of camera sensor.
Hyperspectral technology is useful for any application where you need to discern very, very fine color differences.
Do you find that your hyperspectral solutions are more suitable in industry, research, or both?
I think it is a combination of both, and right now it is a young product line for Corning. Around 90% of our customers to date have been research customers, who are developing their products, testing out various aspects and things that they are looking for in food products or other objects, and then using hyperspectral imaging to develop a spectral signature.
If you use software with the right number and the right spectral bands, you will be able to detect a certain disease in fruit, or a certain infection in skin, or a certain defect in a product that is manufactured.
Primarily a lot of our solutions have been used in research to determine spectral signatures and spectral characteristics of a specific anolyte problem, defect, or whatever it is that you are looking for. However, we are now starting to move into more practical applications.
On the other side of this panel we have a hyperspectral imaging system installed on a small drone, a DJI drone. This system can be used for flying over crops, and by applying software algorithms to the imagery that is collected while the drone is flying along, this allows for automated detection of diseases, irrigation irregularities, and recognition of stress. This imagery is then processed into information that is useful for the farm owner or the consultant.
What is a Hyperspectral Airborne Remote Sensing Kit (SHARK)? Looking on the research side of things, why might you use hyperspectral imaging compared to MRI or other imaging technologies? How is it different or beneficial?
It may not be better. It may be that by using it in conjunction with those other techniques, you get a more reliable answer and a more complete picture of what is going on. In some cases it might be used on a standalone basis, and in other cases it will be used with other technologies in order to increase the probability that you are getting the right answer to the question that you are asking.
Why are Corning at Photonics West?
We are at Photonics West to make the public aware of our product and that Corning is in this market space, because this type of product lends itself towards more sustainable agriculture practices, more sustainable mineral and petroleum exploration practices, and more sustainable use of resources.
We are also here to introduce our newer product line and to find distributors and end use costumers. We are trying to build a worldwide distribution network for our products and we are actively seeking and securing distributors worldwide for the different hyperspectral products that we have to offer.
About Richard E. Zacaroli
Richard (Rich) Zacaroli is the Product Line Manager, Commercial Hyperspectral Products with Corning, Inc., Specialty Materials/Advanced Optics. Rich has over 40 years of experience in the Electro-Optics industry, primarily in the airborne reconnaissance, surveillance and remote sensing sectors.
Rich has an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management with a certificate in Change Management, and a BS in Business Administration from Wichita State University.
Rich’s current focus is developing strategies, market channels and partnerships to grow Corning’s share of commercial and industrial markets for hyperspectral imaging technology and products.
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