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Photonex 2017.

The relevance to our community

An exhibition co-located with a vacuum technology meeting would not seem to be a logical venue to explore technologies for hologram authentication. But the Photonex meeting that takes place in Coventry in the UK each year is often worth a visit. It attracts a cross section of imaging technologies that should be of interest to our community, including machine vision.

The Photonex 'cluster' of events took place over a period of two days in October. The cluster is essentially a number of co-located trade shows with some lecture content included and it brings together some interesting communities.

The main purpose of my visit was to meet with the machine vision and emerging imaging technologies community and this event proved successful in this. Here are some of the highlights that I found at this meeting.

Vision UK

The remit of this part of the cluster is machine vision and industrial imaging technologies. Many of us will be familiar with these concepts as they are well used in document production plants. However, there are some interesting developments in this field and some of these were on show in Coventry.

The show features a full spectrum of camera types from small machine vision units to large scientific grade systems with sensor cooling for the lowest noise. Some are designed for high speed production applications and some with integrated image pre-processing, a precursor technology for intelligent vision systems. This is a useful exhibition for those interested in machine vision applications for production.

The topic of machine vision is becoming increasingly important for smartphone imaging. The whole issue of smartphone imaging for authentication is the subject of The Wider Eye series of articles currently running in Authentication News[R]. This technology will also feature in the short course at Optical Document Security[TM] in 2018.


There were a number of big names in the imaging business exhibiting at Photonex and one of these was SPIE. One of the key deliverables from SPIE are large conferences and trade shows--they are the organiser of the Photonics West series of events. Photonics West covers a wide spectrum of imaging technologies and as it is on at the same time it is another reason to visit Optical Document Security in 2018.

On the equipment front, the exhibition also featured goniometer systems for light scattering evaluation of surfaces. I have found equipment such as this is very useful for hologram and OVD characterisation, particularly when combined with an imaging camera.

At this meeting I caught up with a colleague involved in the launch of the Journal of Perceptual Imaging[TM]. This is a new peer reviewed journal that springs from the annual conference on Human Vision and Electronic Imaging that this year takes place the week after Optical Document Security in the same city as a part of the Electronic Imaging symposium (see HN July 2017). Both the conference and this emerging journal are important for the understanding of optically variable features.

One of the strengths of this type of trade show is that it provides a showcase for emerging product area and a chance to assess these for holography and authentication solutions. High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Short Wave Infra-Red (SWIR) cameras are ones for us to watch in the future, as is Terahertz (THz) imaging. But in my opinion the most important emerging technology for our community is hyperspectral imaging.

Hyperspectral imaging for authentication

In outline, multispectral imaging analyses an image in more than the three colours of a typical colour camera. Hyperspectral imaging takes multispectral to the logical conclusion, constructing an entire reflection spectrum for each pixel in an image. Hyperspectral imaging was a hot topic at Photonex, with the conference session full on the first day. One of the reasons for this is the fact that this is set to soon become a consumer imaging technology.

The killer applications for hyperspectral imaging appears to be food verification (picking the best produce in the grocery store) to pathogen identification and blood glucose monitoring. This potentially gives the imaging cameras a mass market, and one we may care to utilise as these systems can also be used for biometric, OVD and printed feature verification, especially as they seem poised for mass market smartphone integration.

It is the fact that these units are now approaching the size and price points acceptable for smartphone integration that makes the concept so attractive. In 2016, Finland's VTT Technical Research Centre replaced an iPhone camera with a hyperspectral sensor array and demonstrated the verification of a 20 [euro] note. This type of technology featured in real mobile devices at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, including the Changhong H2 smartphone.

The use of hyperspectral imaging for image verification was the subject of the November 2016 article in the 'Printing Beyond Colour' series in Authentication News. Hyperspectral imaging is now emerging in real consumer products and has real potential in our industry. The implications of this will be explored further at Optical Document Security.

In summary

Exhibitions like Photonex offer a useful window onto technologies that are relevant to the verification of optical document features. Out of the technologies on show in 2017, hyperspectral imaging stood out as the one with the greatest near-term relevance. I shall be returning in 2018 where my 'focus' looks likely to be advances in intelligent machine vision.

We will cover some of this technology at Optical Document Security in January. But for those seeking a Wider Eye on this look out for some of the other meetings that take place in San Francisco around the same time. You could have a profitable trip to California in January 2018--see you there!

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Author:Hodgson, Alan
Publication:Holography News
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 1, 2017
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