Fri, 07/31/2015 - 6:45pm
Lindsay Hock, Editor
Kodak has a dedicated team of scientists working to enhance imaging science
Image science and technology attracts researchers from academic and government institutions, as well as practitioners in the imaging industry globally. The diverse research interest and the multidisciplinary characteristics of the imaging field encourage competing ideas to be presented and tested by researchers. This, in turn, prompts imaging technologies to quickly respond to challenges from various scientific disciplines.
“An example of this can be seen over the past decade, where the main research interest for printing technologies evolved from 2-D image formation on different paper substrates to 3-D digital fabrication for medical and manufacturing applications,” says Dr. Chunghui Kuo, Senior Image Scientist, Eastman Kodak Co. “All of this was directly attributed to the accelerated advancement of telecommunication and digital display technologies.”
However, imaging science is as underappreciated as it is pervasive. People often underappreciate scientific advancements they believe as easy to accomplish. This is regardless of the complexity or difficulty behind the discovery. “For example, identifying a specific person in a crowded room is a difficult task in imaging science; but its value is less likely to be recognized,” says Kuo. “Think about it this way: nearly 50% of the cortex in the human brain is related to visual functions, which indicates the type of technological challenges encountered in imaging science.”
Yet, recent advancements in visualization, image understanding and 3-D printing have driven significant interest for many topics imaging science research can tackle. Digital imaging technologies have become indispensable in society and are extending to new scientific frontiers to integrate advancements across several fields, including medicine and engineering.
Virtual reality is also a trend within imaging science, and this pushes beyond the realms of biological aspects into fields such as aerospace, architecture and energy. “The goal of realizing a virtual world indistinguishable from reality is pushing the envelope,” says Kuo. “Virtual reality requires a thorough understanding of the interaction between the physical surface property of the material and human vision system.”
Artificial intelligence is also a trend in imaging, and is a buzzword in R&D, especially in robotics and information technology. The ability to recognize an object and understand the meaning of a natural image is the ultimate goal in this space. “This has led to extensive collaboration between the imaging science and computer engineering research communities to get us there,” says Kuo.
Ink-jet printing has also received attention in recent years. “Using ink-jet printing technologies to digitally fabricate biologically active structure with high precision has received attention for its potential applications in the fields of medical and biological science,” says Kuo. As medical research continues to progress, researcher have started to explore the possibility of personalized medicine with individual drug release properties by digitally fabricating drug dosage.
“In the frontier of additive manufacturing processes, digital printing technologies have demonstrated the capability of fabricating 3-D microscopic structures, indicating great potentials for future industrial applications, for example printing electronics on flexible substrate,” says Kuo. Furthermore, the rapid development in computational science and engineering has empowered complicated visualization algorithms to support the computer graphic industry, with high expectation of the potential of virtual reality technology in the near future.
Yet, improvements still must be made to advance digital fabrication technologies to serve as the driving force for the next industrial revolution. “For example, the ability to guarantee the final quality of a digitally fabrication product is vitally important for medical applications,” says Kuo.
Also, the microscopic imaging scanning in a 3-D setting not only poses a challenge in image acquisition, but also creates a massive data set that must be stored and analyzed. “The same obstacle exists in spectral and hyperspectral imaging, where spectrum data is collected at each spatial location and time interval,” says Kuo.
The broad imaging future
“I truly believe that the future for imaging technologies is bright, and with our concerted effort, we will be able to have a significant contribution on the lives of future generations,” says Kuo.