Like Spock’s Tricorder, sensor to identify contaminants

November 3rd, 2011 - 3:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Tel Aviv, Nov 3 (IANS) The human eye recognises only three bands of light - red, green, and blue. Now new technology, like Spock’s Tricorder in “Star Trek” is using colours invisible to the naked eye to analyse the world we live in — and identify contaminants.

With the ability to detect more than 1,000 colours, the “hyperspectral” (HSR) camera is being used to “diagnose” contaminants and other environmental hazards in real time.

Eyal Ben-Dor, professor of geography at Tel Aviv University, says reading this extensive spectrum of colour allows the sensor to analyse 300 times more information than the human brain can process.

“A combination of absorption or reflection of energy creates the colour that the HSR sensor sees,” explains Ben-Dor, the journal Remote Sensing of Environment reports.

These applications can include anything from helping companies adhere to regulations on environmental contamination to measuring the extent of environmental damage caused by forest fires, according to a Tel Aviv statement.

The sensor’s extensive range - reading information from as close as 0.4 inches and as far as 500 miles away - means it can be placed anywhere from the ground itself to unmanned aircraft, satellites or weather balloons.

Small and easy to use, the sensor can provide immediate, cost-effective and accurate monitoring of forests, urban areas, agricultural lands, harbours or marinas - areas which are often endangered by contaminants and phenomena such as soil erosion or sediment dust.

Using the HSR camera will ultimately lead to better protection and treatment of the environment.

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