Israeli scientists at Tel Aviv University’s School of Electrical Engineering are in the process of bringing the iconic Star Trek “tricorder” to life.
The essential multi-functional tool used on board the Starship Enterprise as it explored new worlds on its five-year mission in space was used to sense, compute and record data in a non-threatening manner.
So too is a new optical component and imaging processing software developed by Professor David Mendlovic and his doctoral student Ariel Raz.
Mendlovic states the obvious: “A long list stands to gain from this new technology. We predict hyperspectral imaging will play a major role in consumer electronics, the automotive industry, biotechnology and homeland security.”
The two men came together with a team of researchers at the Unispectral Technologies firm and patented an optical component based on existing microelecctromechanical (MEMS) technology that can be used in mass production and is compatible with standard smartphone cameras. The combination of the optical component and newly designed software, however, go further than the current smartphone cameras by offering superior imaging performance and hyperspectral imaging capabilities, Mendlovic said.
“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,” he said. It works both in video and still photography,” he added.
Ramot is the tech transfer company for Tel Aviv University, and acted to consolidate key intellectual properties. It financed the engineering team to go ahead with the research and development phase of the project, as well as the business development.
Funders for Unispectral include Momentum Fund, backed by Tata Group Ltd and Temasek, based in Singapore. SanDisk also has an interest in the project.
Unispectral is already moving forward to advance discussions with smartphone makers, automotive companies and wearable device manufacturers.
The future is near; closer than one might realize.Hana Levi Julian