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# Hyperspectral Imaging: A New Frontier for Mobile Phones

Imagine if you could see beyond the visible spectrum of light with your mobile phone. Imagine if you could capture images that reveal hidden details about the objects and scenes around you. Imagine if you could use your phone to detect oil spills, monitor hazardous waste, diagnose diseases, identify minerals, or even explore the stars.

This is not science fiction. This is hyperspectral imaging (HSI), a technique that analyzes a wide spectrum of light instead of just assigning primary colors (red, green, blue) to each pixel. Think of this rather as if you would have thousands of colors per single pixel. The light striking each pixel is broken down into many different spectral bands in order to provide more information on what is imaged.

Pile of fresh green apples at the supermarket

HSI is a novel and versatile optical imaging technology that is fundamentally safe or harmless and can be applied on virtually any type of sample, tough or fragile, close or distant, dead or alive. It has great potential for rapid, non-destructive material investigation.

HSI has been used for various applications in astronomy, agriculture, molecular biology, biomedical imaging, geosciences, physics, and surveillance. For example,

  • HSI can detect hydrocarbons and played an important role in the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
  • HSI can monitor hazardous waste sites and identify contaminants such as asbestos or lead.
  • HSI can obtain both spatial and spectral features of tissue without labeling molecules such as fluorescent dyes, which provides rich information for improved disease diagnosis and treatment.
  • HSI can identify minerals and rocks based on their spectral signatures and help geologists map geological formations.
  • HSI can capture images of distant celestial objects such as planets, stars, nebulae, or galaxies based on their emission or absorption spectra.
Two versions of the same motor oil spill on asphalt parking lot photograph (left) and illustration (right), for abstract or background with themes of pollution, ecology and the environment


However, HSI has been mostly limited to specialized instruments that are bulky, expensive, complex, and require high computational power. This makes them inaccessible to most people and impractical for everyday use.

But what if we could bring HSI to devices like our mobile phones? What if we could leverage the advances in miniaturization, sensor technology, machine learning, and cloud computing to create portable, affordable, simple, and powerful HSI devices that fit in our pockets?

This would open up a new frontier for mobile imaging and enable us to see the world in a different light. We could use our phones to scan food labels, detect counterfeit products, measure skin health, identify plants or animals, or even create art.


The possibilities are endless.


Of course, there are still many challenges and limitations to overcome before we can achieve this vision. We need to develop smaller and faster sensors that can capture high-resolution hyperspectral data; we need to design efficient and robust algorithms that can process and interpret the data; we need to ensure the privacy and security of the data; and we need to educate the users and consumers about the benefits and risks of HSI.


But these challenges are not insurmountable.

They are opportunities for innovation and collaboration.

They are invitations for curiosity and creativity.


Hyperspectral imaging is not just a technique.

It is a way of seeing, truly creating insights beyond the visibleTM.

Stay tuned, follow us,  as we are bringing this technology to our mobile devices.