Collecting and acting on data is core to virtually every major scientific discovery and breakthrough. But in many instances, you have to look beyond what you can see with the naked eye to draw out the most insightful information. That’s exactly the case with hyperspectral imaging, a technology that continues to grow in popularity with researchers, scientists and problem solvers in a wide range of disciplines, who are interested in finding out as much as they can about the varied subjects of their research. We spoke with Chris Draves, Vice President of Sales and Operations at Middleton Spectral Vision (www.middletonspectral.com) about their innovative hyperspectral imaging computer built for harsh environments.
OnLogic: Can you tell us a bit about Middleton Spectral Vision?
Chris Draves: Middleton Spectral Vision is a ten-year-old imaging company that specializes in hyperspectral imaging. This imaging technology combines traditional 2D imaging with spectroscopy. When a customer acquires image data with one of our cameras, they get a complete wavelength rage spectrum for each pixel in the 2D image. This additional information allows for measurements to be performed such as identification, quantification, color coordinates and peak ratios.
Early on, Middleton was a very project-based company, helping customers apply the technology to solve specific problems. In recent years, hyperspectral imaging has become increasingly embraced as a non-destructive analysis technique for applications in agriculture, geology and pharmaceuticals. We are more and more delivering components, complete instruments and turnkey industrial solutions to our clients.
OL: What differentiates Middleton from your competition?
CD: For us, it’s not just about the camera hardware. The datasets our clients work with can be very large and extremely complex. We focus on helping our customers understand the data they are acquiring using our equipment and how to perform the most meaningful measurements to help them solve their problems or answer difficult questions.
OL: How are you using OnLogic hardware?
CD: We get many requests to install our systems in harsh environments, be it a factory, a greenhouse or some other outdoor application. We needed to find a hardware platform that would be able to operate reliably in those conditions. We also needed it to be flexible enough to accommodate the connectivity and processing needs of a wide range of use cases.
New York University’s CUSP Urban Observatory is using OnLogic systems for an outdoor application that uses a Middleton VNIR hyperspectral camera and supporting hardware to remotely monitor the New York City skyline 24/7, year-round through all seasons. We selected the Neousys fanless computer from OnLogic for its wide operating range and flexibility for this application. The computer is housed in an industrial indoor/outdoor enclosure along with other supporting electronics for the system. Both the hyperspectral camera and electronics box need to be installed outdoors at the top of a building that overlooks the New York Skyline to capture spectral images that focus on the distribution of lighting types and estimate the overall energy use of the city.
We’re also using OnLogic hardware at the University of Minnesota. They’re creating an Outdoor Phenotyping Cart and had a need for an outdoor remote sensing system for imaging experimental plots of corn and soybeans. The application is for phenotyping different varieties of plants and classifying different genotypes. The system needed to be run off of a generator and be operational for up to eight hours per day. The phenotyping cart would be used over the growing season so temperatures will vary depending on the day. We selected the OnLogic Neousys fanless computer for its wide operating range and the ability to configure the computer to accept a high volume of hyperspectral data. The small footprint of the Neousys fanless computer is also very attractive.
OL: What does the future hold for Middleton Spectral Vision?
CD: We’ve worked with a wide range of clients on custom projects to incorporate our imaging hardware into their unique application, but we’re now moving toward creating more standardized products and systems. This transition will allow users interested in leveraging hyperspectral technology to do so without always having to create a custom solution. Of course, we’ll still do custom work, but in the near future we expect that to be 40% of our business rather than 90%.
To find our more about Middleton Spectral Vision’s innovative technology, ready their full case study on our website.