Skip to main content

HyperCam captures images on wavelengths invisible to the human eye

HyperCam: HyperSpectral Imaging for Ubiquitous Computing Applications
You might not realize it, but the range of light and color visible to the human eye is actually quite limited when compared to all the things we can’t see. There’s a huge chunk of the light spectrum that’s completely invisible to our highly-evolved eyeballs — but luckily we’ve got technology that can fill the gap. HyperCam, for example, is a hyperspectral camera that captures images in the full range of light from visible to near-infrared in order to analyze surfaces, textures, and even human skin. Hyperspectral imaging technology isn’t exactly new, but HyperCam is the first step towards making the tech cost-effective and scalable.

Satellite imaging, infrastructure and energy analysis systems and food safety inspections all use hyperspectral imaging, but the technology is still prohibitively expensive for use outside industrial purposes. Researchers at the University of Washington (with help from Microsoft’s research branch) set out to make an affordable hyperspectral camera that could theoretically be used in smartphones and other consumer gadgets. The researchers admit the technology isn’t quite ready for consumer applications yet, but demonstrations show that it’s also not far off. The hardware solution prototyped by the team could cost as little as $800, and has been envisioned as an eventual smartphone add-on at no more than $50.

In hyperlapse video footage, HyperCam has been used to show beneath the skin of ripening fruit and vegetables. The visuals demonstrate the information captured by HyperCam that is invisible to the human eye, and could mean never cutting into a not-quite ripe avocado again. Projections for consumer use of HyperCam technology would mean that grocery store shoppers would be able to scan displays of fresh produce using their smartphones, detecting imperfections or even dangerous inclusions in foods before carting them home from the store.

The implications for medical innovation are perhaps more compelling, from a diagnostic health perspective in addition to the technology behind those possibilities. HyperCam captures 17 different wavelengths of light, generating a unique image at each wavelength. Researchers knew immediately that sorting through seventeen images for each instance would not be a scalable solution, so they developed software to analyze each set of images for the most information-rich results. When hooked up to UW’s custom built software, HyperCam is able to identify and select preset wavelengths that are particularly telling for a specific image sample.

In demonstrations with a human hand, the software selected the wavelengths whose images contained the most information, in this case visuals of veins not detectable by the human eye but suddenly clear as day using HyperCam imaging. As other technologies progress separate from HyperCam, it’s easy to see how the imaging tech could be used in collaboration with smart algorithms, neural networks, and artificial intelligence programs. Keeping costs down on the imaging technology opens HyperCam to a range of smart tech-enabled possibilities that will only enhance its imaging advantage.

Chloe Olewitz
Chloe is a writer from New York with a passion for technology, travel, and playing devil's advocate. You can find out more…
Digital Trends’ Top Tech of CES 2023 Awards
Best of CES 2023 Awards Our Top Tech from the Show Feature

Let there be no doubt: CES isn’t just alive in 2023; it’s thriving. Take one glance at the taxi gridlock outside the Las Vegas Convention Center and it’s evident that two quiet COVID years didn’t kill the world’s desire for an overcrowded in-person tech extravaganza -- they just built up a ravenous demand.

From VR to AI, eVTOLs and QD-OLED, the acronyms were flying and fresh technologies populated every corner of the show floor, and even the parking lot. So naturally, we poked, prodded, and tried on everything we could. They weren’t all revolutionary. But they didn’t have to be. We’ve watched enough waves of “game-changing” technologies that never quite arrive to know that sometimes it’s the little tweaks that really count.

Read more
Digital Trends’ Tech For Change CES 2023 Awards
Digital Trends CES 2023 Tech For Change Award Winners Feature

CES is more than just a neon-drenched show-and-tell session for the world’s biggest tech manufacturers. More and more, it’s also a place where companies showcase innovations that could truly make the world a better place — and at CES 2023, this type of tech was on full display. We saw everything from accessibility-minded PS5 controllers to pedal-powered smart desks. But of all the amazing innovations on display this year, these three impressed us the most:

Samsung's Relumino Mode
Across the globe, roughly 300 million people suffer from moderate to severe vision loss, and generally speaking, most TVs don’t take that into account. So in an effort to make television more accessible and enjoyable for those millions of people suffering from impaired vision, Samsung is adding a new picture mode to many of its new TVs.
[CES 2023] Relumino Mode: Innovation for every need | Samsung
Relumino Mode, as it’s called, works by adding a bunch of different visual filters to the picture simultaneously. Outlines of people and objects on screen are highlighted, the contrast and brightness of the overall picture are cranked up, and extra sharpness is applied to everything. The resulting video would likely look strange to people with normal vision, but for folks with low vision, it should look clearer and closer to "normal" than it otherwise would.
Excitingly, since Relumino Mode is ultimately just a clever software trick, this technology could theoretically be pushed out via a software update and installed on millions of existing Samsung TVs -- not just new and recently purchased ones.

Read more
AI turned Breaking Bad into an anime — and it’s terrifying
Split image of Breaking Bad anime characters.

These days, it seems like there's nothing AI programs can't do. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, deepfakes have done digital "face-offs" with Hollywood celebrities in films and TV shows, VFX artists can de-age actors almost instantly, and ChatGPT has learned how to write big-budget screenplays in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon, AI will probably decide who wins at the Oscars.

Within the past year, AI has also been used to generate beautiful works of art in seconds, creating a viral new trend and causing a boon for fan artists everywhere. TikTok user @cyborgism recently broke the internet by posting a clip featuring many AI-generated pictures of Breaking Bad. The theme here is that the characters are depicted as anime characters straight out of the 1980s, and the result is concerning to say the least. Depending on your viewpoint, Breaking Bad AI (my unofficial name for it) shows how technology can either threaten the integrity of original works of art or nurture artistic expression.
What if AI created Breaking Bad as a 1980s anime?
Playing over Metro Boomin's rap remix of the famous "I am the one who knocks" monologue, the video features images of the cast that range from shockingly realistic to full-on exaggerated. The clip currently has over 65,000 likes on TikTok alone, and many other users have shared their thoughts on the art. One user wrote, "Regardless of the repercussions on the entertainment industry, I can't wait for AI to be advanced enough to animate the whole show like this."

Read more