Laser Imaging Video Camera

Laser Imaging Video Camera, stumbling on something that had not been seen before: a video camera capable of seeing through flames, fog, dust, and virtually any other obscurant, even at night. Put together for a perimeter security system on the border, at a factory or a nuclear power plant, or on a military installation.

Security not the original intent of this technology, which ultimately find uses in a number of fields. Conceived a decade prior as a tool that would allow firefighters and other first responders to see through smoke and flames, developed the capability working with the Navy.

Excitement about it for applications, capable of seeing through a blaze. Also capable of penetrating almost any other obscurant, potential for the device to increase visibility for aircraft under adverse conditions.

Much effort over the last decade are in support of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) endeavor to update air traffic control, accommodating more flights while also increasing safety. An example of the need for this update, found at San Francisco International Airport, where frequent fog causes backups that can mean planes end up grounded all over the country, waiting to fly into San Francisco. If you can see the other aircraft, you can get more aircraft in and out of an airport in a given time. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/1.4994651

How It Works

Laser Imaging Video Camera, along with other visibility issues pilots face, the device works by sending out fast pulses of near-infrared laser light. Then opening the aperture, or gate, just in time to catch them after they’ve reflected off the target object.

Light travels at one foot per nanosecond, so the camera might send out a 10-nanosecond pulse of light and then wait about 50 nanoseconds to open the gate. In the interval, the light will pass through the obscurant. Which reflects and dissipates some of it, then bounced off-of whatever is around 25 feet away, and returned to the camera.

Turning the Camera On: Laser Imaging Video Camera

When turning the camera on, all that near-term reflected light disappears. Near-term scattering workers are not blinded. The laser light also scatters less than normal white light. By adjusting the time that the gate waits to open. Workers trained on camera objects at different distances, and capable of reaching up to a couple of miles. A closer object’s shadow can also make it identifiable. Something near the camera would show up as a silhouette against light reflected from objects farther away. The camera can see through fire because it only catches a few nanoseconds’ worth of light from the blaze. Not much compared to the concentrated laser light reflected from the object behind it.

Other ways to look through obscurants, thermal imager. For example, can see through smoke if it’s cold. It doesn’t do well with fog because heat absorbed by water. A thermal imager also cannot penetrate glass. No other system out there that can see through a flame sheet. Basically, a strobe video camera. Not only did the device present an elegant solution to a difficult problem, already demonstrated effective.

Technology Transfer

However, the idea relatively simple, the hardware to make it work is a technological challenge. Under the first two SBIRs developed and refined his current prototype. Developing the hardware, making sure everything works, getting all the timings right. Extensive tests will are run to see what surfaces reflect better under various conditions. Commercializing the device for a ground application and using the income to continue developing the technology until small enough for use on airplanes. The possibility of perimeter security after spotting workers through dense fog while testing the camera

This Camera triggered by a tripwire-like laser and automatically turns to the place where the perimeter was breached. Adding that another option, on a track for added mobility. Neither the triggering laser nor the laser light from the camera are visible to the human eye. Based on our interactions with LITO and some of their early technology demonstrations through the SBIR, excitement about the possibilities for this camera.

Refining Technology: Laser Imaging Video Camera

Refining the technology for use in aviation, as well as a host of other applications, already received some interest. Each system customized depending on the distance to the perimeter and other factors.

When the camera turns on, all that near-term reflected light disappears. Getting rid of the near-term scattering, so people can see. The laser light also scatters less than normal white light. By adjusting the time that the gate waits to open, people trained the camera on objects at different distances. It is capable of reaching up to a couple of miles. A closer object’s shadow can also make it identifiable, he explains. Something near the camera would show up as a silhouette against light reflected from objects farther away. The camera can see through fire because it only catches a few nanoseconds’ worth of light from the blaze. Which isn’t much compared to the concentrated laser light reflected from the object behind it.

Therefore, needing other ways to look through obscurants. A thermal imager, for example, can see through smoke if it’s cold, but it doesn’t do well with fog because heat is absorbed by water. A thermal imager also cannot penetrate glass. There is no other system out there that can see through a flame sheet. Not only did the device built with the Navy present an elegant solution to a difficult problem. https://glewengineering.com/global-fire-detection-sensors-in-space/

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER

However, while the idea was relatively simple, the hardware to make it work was a technological challenge. Under the first two SBIRs the camera developed and refined his current prototype. A lot of it has just been developing the hardware, making sure everything works, getting all the timings right,” he says, adding that he’s also run extensive tests to see what surfaces reflect better under various conditions. A third SBIR with Langley funded further testing into 2012. https://glewengineering.com/global-fire-detection-sensors-in-space/

Commercializing the device for a ground application and using the income to continue developing the technology until it was made small enough for use on airplanes. The possibility of perimeter security after spotting workers through dense fog while testing the camera was noticed.

BENEFITS: Laser Imaging Video Camera

Still looking to the day when the technology will help firefighters blinded by smoke and flames in the Santa Ana winds. The SBIR for exactly what it’s intended for, which is getting this thing commercially ready. Knowing how to build a system we can sell for perimeter security or for first responders. Also, security systems, used in sandstorms at desert outposts, at nuclear power plants, often on foggy lakes, on the US border. LITO technology could also find an application in accident prevention on police and emergency vehicles. https://glewengineering.com/thermal-analysis-devices-just-got-more-affordable/

Other Enhancements

Partnering with an acoustics company to incorporate “localized acoustics” into the system, capable of pinpointing a sound between a person’s ears, in this case at distances of up to 600 meters. Then First Responders can say, “Please stop what you’re doing” or, “We can see you” or whatever. Low visibility not always an issue, LITO considered a supplement to a system that includes other infrared and regular cameras. Envisioning applications not only in perimeter security, enhancing safety and efficiency in aviation. Also, shipping, where vessels making their way in and out of foggy harbors. Trucking, where it could prevent accidents and pileups in storms and fog.