Register for updates

 
 

Computers & Technology
RSS Feed
Where No Smartphone Has Gone Before
Wednesday, April 01, 2015 1:30:00 AM

TAU researchers move Star Trek's fictional "Tricorder" into the real world


A first-generation demonstration system of the camera.

For the crew of the Starship Enterprise, Star Trek's "Tricorder" was an essential tool, a multifunctional hand-held device used to sense, compute, and record data in a threatening and unpredictable universe. It simplified a number of Starfleet tasks, scientific or combat-related, by beaming sensors at objects to obtain instant results.

The Tricorder is no longer science fiction. An invention by Tel Aviv University researchers may be able to turn smartphones into powerful hyperspectral sensors, capable of identifying the chemical components of objects from a distance. Prof. David Mendlovic of TAU's School of Electrical Engineering and his doctoral student, Ariel Raz, have combined the two necessary parts of this invention: an optical component and image processing software.

"A long list of fields stand to gain from this new technology," said Prof. Mendlovic. "We predict hyperspectral imaging will play a major role in consumer electronics, the automotive industry, biotechnology, and homeland security."

Putting a camera and a database together

Prof. Mendlovic and Raz, together with a team of researchers at the Unispectral Technologies firm, patented an optical component based on existing microelectromechanical or "MEMS" technology, suitable for mass production and compatible with standard smartphone camera designs. The combination of this optical component and newly designed software go further than current smartphone cameras by offering superior imaging performance and hyperspectral imaging capabilities.

"The optical element acts as a tunable filter and the software — an image fusion library — would support this new component and extract all the relevant information from the image," said Prof. Mendlovic. The imaging works in both video and still photography, he says.

Every material object has a hyperspectral signature, its own distinctive chemical fingerprint. Once the camera acquires an image, the data would be further analyzed to extract the hyperspectral content at any location in the image. "We are close to producing a prototype, which is scheduled for release in June," says Prof. Mendlovic. "We unveiled the demonstration system at the MWC Barcelona conference this month and received excellent feedback."

A device for everyone

Unispectral is in talks with other companies to analyze data from its cameras' images. This back-end analyzer would need a large database of hyperspectral signatures at its disposal. Applications of the sensor include remote health monitoring and industrial quality control. "Agricultural applications may also benefit because hyperspectral imaging could be used to identify properties of crops, vegetables, and other types of foods," Mr. Raz says. "Its hyperspectral platform is also suitable for wearable devices."

Ramot, TAU's tech transfer company, consolidated key intellectual properties and financed the engineering team to proceed with R&D and the business development. Unispectral's funders include the Momentum Fund, which is backed by Tata Group Ltd. and Temasek, an investment company based in Singapore. Another key investor is the flash memory firm SanDisk.

According to Prof. Mendlovic, Unispectral is currently in advanced discussions with major smartphone makers, automotive companies, and wearable device makers to move the technology forward.




Latest News

Business and Civic Leader Mort Mandel Awarded TAU Honorary Doctorate

Mr. Mandel cited for his visionary philanthropy and establishment of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for STEM and the Humanities at TAU.

Early Humans Used Tiny, Flint "Surgical" Tools to Butcher Elephants

New discovery by TAU-led research group suggests early humans in the Levant were sophisticated and environmentally conscious.

TAU Ranks Among Top 10 Undergraduate Programs Producing Most Venture Capital-Backed Entrepreneurs

Joining Stanford, UC Berkeley, and MIT, TAU is the only non-U.S. university to make top 10 of global VC list.

Protein Mapping Pinpoints Why Most Metastatic Melanoma Patients Do Not Respond to Immunotherapy

Lipid metabolism found to affect cancer cells' visibility to the immune system, say TAU, Sheba Medical Center researchers.

Breakdown in Coral Spawning Places Species at Risk of Extinction

Synchronized coral spawning has become erratic, endangering the long-term survival of coral species, TAU researchers say.

Joanna Naftali Named Associate Vice President, Midwest of AFTAU

Accomplished fundraiser has deep roots in educational, philanthropic, and arts sectors.

Blocking Inflammatory Pathway Key to Preventing Brain Metastasis from Melanoma

Tumor cells "hijack" their way to the brain through an inflammatory factor secreted by brain cells, say TAU researchers.

TAU and Technion Researchers Wrest Control of One of World's Most Secure PLCs

Rogue engineering station instigated "hostile intervention" of Siemens programmable logic controller that runs industrial processes.

Novel Immunotherapy May Prevent Brain Metastases

Injection of synthetic DNA material found to activate brain's immune cells and kill invading tumor cells, TAU researchers say.

TAU Scientists Develop Novel Nano-Vaccine for Melanoma

Injection of nanoparticle has proven effective in mouse models, researchers say.

contentSecondary
c

© 2019 American Friends of Tel Aviv University
39 Broadway, Suite 1510 | New York, NY 10006 | 212.742.9070 | info@aftau.org
Privacy policy | Tel Aviv University