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Mitigating Sensor Saturation through Image Processing Techniques

Description:

OBJECTIVE: Develop Image Processing Techniques to Mitigate Saturation Effects of MWIR cameras. DESCRIPTION: Air Force tactical and reconnaissance platforms rely on high performance, multifunctional optical sensor systems. The primary optical sensor in these systems is a Mid-Wave Infrared (MWIR) camera because it combines high resolution imagery with day/night operation. In order to increase sensor performance, designers have increased the sensitivity of these cameras. The improvement in camera performance has been dramatic, but because of this increased sensitivity they can be easily saturated by bright light sources like the sun, flashes, etc. The purpose of this effort is to develop imaging processing software to mitigate these saturation effects and demonstrate performance improvement using a commercially available MWIR camera. Possible image processing approaches might include, but are not limited to, recovering scene content in areas where saturation has not yet been reached or automatically detecting saturation and implementing a real-time response, e.g. changes in integration time. A variety of metrics have been used to quantify scene saturation. At minimum, percent saturation and average scene contrast should be reported. Other metrics can and should be used as appropriate. The end goal would be real-time processing of MWIR camera imagery to reduce saturation effects. For Phase I and Phase II goals, demonstrating that image processing techniques can be used to mitigate saturation effects on any time scale is sufficient as long there is a path forward to real-time image processing. No government furnished equipment will be provided, though representative MWIR camera imagery datasets can be provided upon request. PHASE I: Demonstrate software that can post-process imagery to mitigate saturation effects representative of those found with MWIR cameras. Measure percent saturation and average scene contrast with and without image processing to quantify improved performance. PHASE II: Optimize image processing software. Integrate image processing software with a commercial MWIR camera and demonstrate performance with prototype testing in a lab environment. Goals for the prototype include a 50% reduction in percent saturation and/or a 10x improvement in light levels required to obtain saturation. The prototype system (software and camera) shall be delivered to the government for additional testing. PHASE III: Integrate lessons learned from Phase II into next generation prototype MWIR camera system and demonstrate performance in a lab environment. Explore manufacturability of prototype MWIR camera and modify design to facilitate transition to USAF sensor systems. REFERENCES: 1. Readout electronics for infrared sensors; J. Vampola; The Infrared & Electro-Optical Systems Handbook. Electro-Optical Components, Volume 3, Chapter 5, 1993. 2. Standardized high-performance 640x512 readout integrated circuit for infrared applications; Naseem Y. Aziz; Robert F. Cannata; Glenn T. Kincaid; Randal J. Hansen; Jeffery L. Heath; William J. Parrish; Susan M. Petronio; James T. Woolaway II; SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3698 Infrared Technology and Applications XXV, 1999, pp.766-777.
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