Hyperspectral camera combines infrared and visual sensing with RGB imaging at video rates

Hyperspectral camera combines infrared and visual sensing with RGB imaging at video rates

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Belgian research lab imec is showing the world’s first multi-sensor hyperspectral imaging (HIS) camera system that covers both the visual and red/near infrared spectral ranges combined with a high-resolution RGB sensor.

Even in scenarios with inherent motion, the three-sensor system system supports data acquisition at video rate (30Hz) and helps assess which spectral resolution and range best suit a given application using a single device.

The camera combines the three sensors in a single housing with a standard F-mount lens. It will allow partners to flexibly assess the pros and cons of different spectral resolutions and ranges without needing to invest in a myriad of devices or duplicate experiments.

Inside the camera, the light is directed to three channels. Two of them are equipped with an imec off-the-shelf two-megapixel sensor – together covering the VIS and NIR spectral ranges. A third channel sports a high-resolution RGB sensor.

This allows the camera to cover 30 bands in the 460 to 870nm range, complemented by a true-colour, five-megapixel image, all synchronised for video rate imaging in real-time data acquisition systems
even with dynamic scenes.

“imec has an extensive track record in the domain of HSI research and prototyping. Exemplary of this is our acclaimed series of hyperspectral snapshot cameras,” says Wouter Charle, programme manager of imec’s spectral imaging on-chip activities. The lab has spun out a hyperspectral startup, Spectricity.

“Coming in several flavours, each variant covers a  specific spectral resolution and range – from the visual (VIS), over the near-infrared (NIR), to the short-wave infrared (SWIR) ranges, all while supporting real-time data acquisition, even in motion.”

“Today, we expand this portfolio with the imec multishot VNIR+RGB – a multi-sensor system that covers the VIS to NIR spectral range, complemented with a high-resolution RGB sensor. It is specifically aimed at companies and research groups engaging in HSI application development,” he said.

Target application areas include assisted surgery and machine vision to quality inspection with uses involving an uncontrollably dynamic scene such as environmental monitoring, anomaly detection, automotive vision, precision agriculture and crop inspection.

The next move is to license the design to a manufacturing partner.

“We know there is much interest in this type of solution. Yet, so far, the underlying complexity has prevented the industry from building a fully functional multi-sensor hyperspectral camera,2 said Charle.

“So that is where imec comes in, exploring and prototyping the required components and helping the industry overcome all related hurdles. As a next step, we are ready to share our learnings and a complete
development kit with camera builders and systems companies to support the system’s further commercialization,” he said.


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