Looking Beyond The Horizon

Innovative Technologies & Services

Archive for July, 2007

Liquid Lens – thinner and cost effective

Posted by evolvingwheel on July 28, 2007

A German research team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering, Jena, Germany, has come up with a liquid lens that has no mechanical moving parts and can switch between two levels of magnification in a flick of a switch. The most amazing part of the development is the size and weight advantage of the device. The lens works on the principle of bending of light between multiple liquid layers of varying densities. The boundaries between these liquid boundaries are manipulated by applying a small voltage across them. Light is then made to focus by making it pass through those controlled boundaries. liq_lens.jpg

One big application that the researchers are betting on is in the zoom lenses. Commercial zoom lenses are heavy, large, and expensive with innumerable lenses packed together. Liquid lenses can provide a new alternative with no moving parts. The size advantage is incredible too. However, the biggest hurdle is to create a whole range of magnification rather than two specific magnifications. The researchers are working on finding the right kind of liquids that can provide the altering zooms across a wide range.

Samsung is already using liquid lenses in its cell phone cameras. Currently, these lenses are finding more use in small digital photographic devices. However, if this lens theory is physically implemented in mainstream photography, the cost benefit and commercial profitability looks very lucrative.

Read more below.

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Posted in optics, photography | Leave a Comment »

Face Recognition in everyday use digital cameras – and more

Posted by evolvingwheel on July 14, 2007

During the early part of 2007, several affordable digital cameras from major manufacturers came out with face detection capability. Canon’s Face Detection Technology and Fuji’s Image Intelligence technology are the two most visible technologies in that paradigm. The basic technology behind the concept is an advanced algorithm that parses the scene on the LCD to detect a human face based on features like eyes, separation between eyes, nose, lips, etc. The algorithm operates on vector based calculations across the edges. The process detects rectangular areas on the scene and can measure as much as 10 such faces in area. These cameras have special chips that continuously scan attributes across the scene and detect and adjust according to the movements of such faces. I could find one such good algorithm on the web too.

I believe that this technology is just the beginning of a more powerful utility in the coming years. Face detection will eventually give way to face identification. Newer and efficient algorithms will be able to highlight and memorize patterns on the scene and tag memos to those faces. Example – I can take a picture and tag one of the faces as my daughter or wife. With time, as more pictures of those individuals get added and the same tags get attached, an artificial intelligent algorithm will be able to evolve and detect a spectrum of pattern of the same human being. This information will help to direct the camera’s lens intelligently to a person chosen by the user.

Google knows about this and thus trying to create several applications that will be able to search through pictures across the web with attributes attached to them. It will be a whole new world of facial identification on the fly. The next phase will be detecting mobile human characters in video cameras and processing that information for intelligent decision making. A burglar trying to cross the fence – an activity that will be identified by a camera as an inappropriate action!

A new world of picture and video search ahead 🙂

Picture: Courtesy Fuji Film

Posted in Innovation, Media, optics | Leave a Comment »

Innovation at Boeing – Dreamliner

Posted by evolvingwheel on July 3, 2007

This can be counted as a continuation of my earlier article on plastic composites for airliners posted on May 18. I just read an article in MSNBC (posted today) about the innovative ways Boeing has employed to rollout its long-awaited 787 Dreamliner. The article briefly touches upon the strategic thinking behind opting out of big fat air cruisers like that of the Airbus Corporation. What grabs my attention is the multi-vendor multi-continent engagement that Boeing pulled off as seamlessly as possible. 

One of the most interesting aspects is the design, development, and procurement of major parts from outside of US. Is the Wal-Mart model going to be a trend in heavy duty airline manufacturing industry in this country? Check this link out: 787 Dreamliner Development Team.

We are often paralyzed by different legalities, regulations, and national security issues when it comes to hi-tech design sharing and development with international vendors. However, if Boeing sets an example with the Dreamliner, may be other heavy duty hi-tech companies (Lockheed, Raytheon, etc. – may be they already do – I have not done enough research on that side yet) will follow suit. What will be the implications? Will there be a rigorous international standardization to support such developments? What are the opportunities with the continued product launches? Will Boeing still have a competitive advantage over the long run? May be the depth of capital investments will dictate the abilities to design innovative products and keep the competitive advantage on this side.

This entire article can be a case study. Another exciting knowledge gathered is the way global investment, requirements, and cost feasibility is making old behemoths change their business model. The old ideologies are being replaced by fresh, new outlooks.

Read the [article]. 

Posted in aviation, Innovation, materials | 2 Comments »