Long-Wave Infrared (LWIR) thermal imagers have proven their use in a variety of commercial and military applications to improve detection, recognition, and identification of objects and people. Polarization has proven to be up to four times more effective than LWIR imagery alone. Polarization Enhanced Imagers enhance the warfighter’s ability to acquire and track hard to see targets from a multitude of platforms, as well as remotely identify disturbed earth, which assists in detecting manmade objects that are buried. Commercial and military applications for a LWIR polarizing imager include object detection, security, surveillance, facial recognition and autonomous vehicle navigation/collision avoidance.
Many people think of all products that see in the infrared as being night vision or thermal imagers, but different wavelengths of infrared light can be used for different tasks. The difference between MWIR and LWIR is that MWIR has both reflective and emissive properties, whereas LWIR consists primarily of emitted radiation. There are three main advantages of MWIR over the active IR band. First, MWIR imagery can be acquired without any external illumination in day or night environments, while regions in the active IR band might require an external light source. Second, vein patterns (or other anatomical features) not observable in the active IR spectrum can be observable in MWIR. Finally, background clutter in MWIR images is not always visible. For example, the texture of a wall will not usually be visible if it is uniform and has the same surface temperature signature. Thus, when operating in the MWIR band, the tasks of face detection, localization, and segmentation—fundamental processes of typical face recognition systems—are comparatively easier and more reliable than in active IR and visible bands.
SWIR imaging polarimetry has demonstrated significant improvement over conventional imaging for many different mission areas including target detection, discrimination, and tracking in both land and maritime environments. In fact, researchers have applied imaging polarimetry to a number of applications including detection of disturbed earth, objects or swimmers in water, target with background clutter, and objects during thermal cross-over periods. SWIR band polarimetry has been recently applied to these applications as well as discrimination between materials for Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF). As the utility of SWIR imaging polarimetry is demonstrated in an ever-widening application space, more warfighter program offices are beginning to evaluate the technology for inclusion into their specific platform. The growing application space for SWIR imaging polarimetry is increasing the demand for commercially available products, and Polaris is here to meet that need.
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