Australian stock exchange-listed imaging specialist IATIA says it has now built a prototype of the camera it is developing capable of seeing through barriers such as camouflage netting or forest canopy.

The quantitative phase camera testbed is being developed under an Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO)-administered concept technology demonstration project.

Work on the camera will continue over the next two years in parallel with IATIA's research activity on new-generation imaging processing techniques and software algorithms.

IATIA's chief scientific officer, Dr Brendan Allman, says: “We have designed and fabricated a prototype camera testbed for use in a wide range of defence-related applications. This is a preliminary prototype for specific defence and homeland security applications, which will undergo further development and refinement in the future.”

Quantitative phase imaging technology exploits the phase – or shape and depth – characteristics of light using software algorithms, and could result in an airborne or land-based sensor capable of penetrating camouflage nets or penetrating forest canopy to locate hidden targets.

IATIA camera

The shape processing aspects of the technology occur independently of colour and contrast data, and without the use of specialist optical hardware systems, meaning it has the potential to be retrofitted into a wide variety of existing electro-optic sensor systems as a software upgrade.

A key element of the concept technology demonstration project is to develop reflection-based algorithms suitable for performing shape imaging at greater distances.

IATIA secured a A$2.97 million ($2.26 million) Australian Defence concept technology demonstration programme award in June 2005 to develop advanced stand-off imaging systems. The development effort, known as Joint Project 2105, is planned to run over a three-year period.

Total DSTO payments for the project to 30 June 2006 totalled A$520,000, with a further payment of A$135,000 made in July following the completion of Milestone 4 of the project.

IATIA was set up in 1999 and was first listed on the Australian stock exchange in April 2002. Major shareholders in the company include Queensland-based Thiang Holdings, and Malaysia-based Moneylink, which operates predominantly in the plastics and rubber sectors.

Source: Flight International