Combining tiny cave camera, iris recognition technology for military, homeland security.

Researchers are expanding new miniature camera technology for military and…

Researchers are expanding new miniature camera technology for military and security uses so soldiers can track combatants in dark caves or urban alleys, and security officials can unobtrusively identify a subject from an iris scan.

The two new surveillance applications both build on “Panoptes,” a platform technology developed under a project led by Marc Christensen at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and funded by the DARPA, the Pentagon’s research arm.

Panoptes is a compact, lightweight, high-resolution smart camera that is named for the Greek mythological character Argos Panoptes, the giant sentry with a hundred eyes. The Department of Defense (DOD) is funding development of the technology’s first two extension applications with a $1.6 million grant to SMU.

Both the tiny cave camera and the iris recognition application will aid the military, border patrol, intelligence officials, and airport security, according to Christensen and Delores Etter, a leading researcher in biometric identification.

Both are electrical engineers in SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering. The new applications may be ready for fielded demonstrations as soon as late 2011, said Christensen.

The Panoptes imaging system has been field-tested in tactical environment simulations by defense contractor Northrop Grumman and is currently in an independent test with Draper Laboratory.

“The Panoptes technology is sufficiently mature that it can now leave our lab, and we’re finding lots of applications for it,” said Christensen, an expert in computational imaging and optical interconnections. “This new money will allow us to explore Panoptes’ use for non-cooperative iris recognition systems for Homeland Security and other defense applications. And it will allow us to enhance the camera system to make it capable of active illumination so it can travel into dark places — like caves and urban areas.”

The new grant brings total DOD funding of Panoptes — short for Processing Arrays of Nyquist-limited Observations to Produce a Thin Electro-optic Sensor — to $5.5 million. The new applications have been dubbed AIM-CAMS, for “Active Illumination with Micro-mirror-arrays for Computational Adaptive Multi-resolution Sensing,” and Smart-Iris, for “SMU’s Multi-resolution Adaptive Roving Task-specific Iris Recognition Imaging System.”

Source: Homeland Security Newswire

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