Tuesday, September 30, 2008

DARPA Developing Super Scope

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From the Future Of Things:

Researchers at the Strategic Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) are developing new high resolution scopes that extend the range of viable image recognition and reduce atmospheric interference. Still in the early prototyping stage, DARPA hopes the new optical system will eventually result in a decrease of friendly fire incidents and collateral damage from military operations.

Called the Super-Resolution Vision System (SRVS), this new system exploits atmospheric turbulence effects that magnify pieces of images behind heat haze. The formal name for this phenomenon is atmospheric turbulence-generated micro-lensing and it creates a brief, high resolution image behind the haze. The SRVS takes many such images and collates them to create a cohesive image of the entire larger area under observation using new advances in signal processing made possible by advances in computer processing power and increased storage capabilities.

Because of the need to interpolate the full image from fragments, the SRVS system will not operate in real time. Delays of approximately one second are anticipated before the composite image is shown to the viewer. DARPA hopes to achieve 90% facial recognition of an individual one kilometer away using a six centimeter lens that will fit into the form factor currently used for military scopes. The image resolution would be approximately three times that of current diffraction-based scopes. The increase in effective distance of the new scopes has not been released (or is not yet known).

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