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Snap at the Speed of Light

With his recent camera innovations,Steve Silverman is poised to inherit Doc Edgerton's mantle. Steve, at his company Advanced Scientific Concepts, has created a camera that is capable of taking pictures at the speed of light.

By using a single lens and a sophisticated array of photon detectors, signal processors and computers he is able to freeze a 6 nanosecond pulse of laser light (roughly 6 feet long) and do this feat 30 times a second. Steve takes individual photos or a complete sequence over a very short period of time to create a movie. The movie can be processed to create a 3 dimensional model of the scene - each picture is illuminated at a subsequently different time, and hence, a farther distance.

What can you do with such a camera? The camera, since it operates at the speed of light, provides blur and distortion free readings of distance from many sources simultaneously. So the first applications that comes to mind is for collision and obstacle avoidance for both manned and autonomous vehicles.

Another set of uses that Steve touches on is surveillance and battlefield or conflict area intelligence. He shows a series of images taken through a window with venetian blinds drawn. The light illuminates the window and the blinds first, then a person sitting in a chair behind the window and finally, the back wall.

Check out Advanced Scientific Concepts to see more of their work. You can view Steve talking about the system at Gadgetoff 2007.



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