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Development of Tool to Assess the Impact of"Off-shade/Specification"Samples on Visual and Signature Performance Requirements


OBJECTIVE: Develop a technique or system to rapidly determine the impact of deviations from established shade performance specifications on the camouflage effectiveness of Soldier uniforms in a photorealistic and radiometrically correct manner. DESCRIPTION: This SBIR seeks innovative approaches to visualize and quantify the impact on camouflage effectiveness of materials determined to be"off spec"by various amounts for shade and near-infrared (NIR) both upon initial submission and after completion of various performance tests, such as colorfastness to light and laundering or durability (wear). As an example, current specifications for printed camouflage fabric for combat uniforms (e.g., MIL-DTL-44436A, Cloth, Camouflage Pattern, Wind Resistant Poplin, Nylon/Cotton Blend) require visual evaluation by a trained color specialist of the submitted specimen against the established standard under standard lighting conditions, D75, in a shade booth. The visual appearance of the specimen is compared to a set of physical standard and tolerance samples pulled from production runs by a team of subject matter experts. The near-infrared performance is evaluated based on spectrophotometer measurements of each color in wavelengths between 600-860nm and how they compare to the established tolerances in the current specification for that pattern. When specimens are judged to be outside of the acceptable range, a waiver may be granted if it is determined to be in the best interest of the US Government by subject matter experts and contracting personnel. However, there is currently no method to visualize, in a photorealistic and radiometrically correct process, what the appearance of these deviations is or to quantitatively evaluate the impact of the waived specimens on the overall performance of the camouflage in a combat environment without actually fabricating prototypes from the material in question and conducting a field test. For instance, due to both the complexity of the camouflage patterns and the sensitivity of the human visual system, a small deviation in one color may have a minimal impact on a pattern"s visual and/or NIR performance while a change of a similar magnitude in another color of the same pattern could have a profound impact. The goal for this task is to design, develop and demonstrate an innovative technique or techniques for rapidly visualizing and quantitatively determining the impact of the off-spec performance of Soldier Camouflage materials in relevant, real-world background scenes in the visual and near-infrared regions of the spectrum. PHASE I: Design, develop and demonstrate a system process for creating photorealistic and radiometrically correct visualizations of off spec material for comparison to standard material performance at a minimum of 3 ranges (background dependent close, far and mid-ranges) of military relevance. Metrics to quantify time to generate visualizations, end product accuracy and fidelity will be chosen or developed by the contractor. An actual world location will be selected to encompass typical background elements relevant to evaluating material conformance to specification requirements. PHASE II: Develop a prototype demonstration system for generating photorealistic and radiometrically correct visualizations of Soldier camouflage materials for comparison to standard materials in the visual and NIR that is extendable to other spectral regions, as well as a means to quantify the performance impact of the deviation. The software architecture and system operational requirements will be clearly stated and compatible with existing Army tool suites. Comparisons of the generated visualizations will be conducted against actual physical samples of standard and off spec material(s) and evaluated for scene generation speed, complexity and accuracy. Specimen and scene preparation and evaluation time shall be determined and documented. PHASE III: Scene simulations are used in many current DoD applications, such as missile development, algorithm development and intelligence gathering, as well as in the motion picture and computer gaming industries. Our goal is to have a simpler version of a background and target scene generator than the hyperspectral variants required for sensor or missile development, suitable for use during full scale procurement. However, a more robust, radiometrically correct version than the photorealistic renderers used in the entertainment industry is required. Additional applications of this work could include extending the visualization software to other spectral regions beyond the NIR for other military products. PHASE III DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: This visualization process could also aid customers in the commercial market by demonstrating the impact of varying shade tolerances to find the best combination of appearance, durability and cost. This could be useful in many different markets including textiles, paints and plastics, food and brand marketing. An additional application could be in the evaluation of transportation safety regulations.
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