Imaging and Optics Term Paper

Pages: 21 (6228 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 20  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Education - Computers

¶ … Optics Applications in Information Technology Today

How imaging and optics technology are revolutionizing the way businesses communicate their products to the consumer.

Imaging and optics technology have provided a wide range of industries with the ability to label, track, and prevent bad documentation to their products for a more efficient and economically sound business.

Audience: College students, professors, general public.

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Imaging and optic applications are truly ancient, and people quickly recognized the innovation these devices represented. "Two thousand years ago," Peter Weiss says, "Roman Emperor Nero peered through an emerald monocle to better see his gladiators in combat. Twelve hundred or so years later, eyeglasses started to adorn faces" (p. 200). To date, though, optical lenses have primarily served just one purpose: to provide the viewer with an image of the world that is more visible. Things are changing, though, and they are changing fast. "Now, there are inanimate observers that can also benefit from lenses," Weiss says, and "More and more, computers are being tasked with making sense of the visual world in ways that people can't" (p. 200). According to Rudolf Kingslake and Brian J. Thompson (2005), "A new era in optics commenced in the early 1950s following the impact of certain branches of electrical engineering -- most notably communication and information theory. This impetus was sustained by the development of the laser in the 1960s" (p. 5). The initial association between optics and communication theory emerged based on the wide range of similarities that exist between the two subjects as well as the similar mathematical techniques that are used to formally describe the behavior of both electrical circuits and optical systems (Kingslake & Thompson, 2005). In the Digital Age, these considerations have assumed new levels of importance, which is discussed further below.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Imaging and Optics Assignment

Why imaging and optics are important. A topic of considerable concern since the invention of the lens as an optical imaging device has always been the description of the optical system that forms the image; information about the object is relayed and presented as an image. Clearly, the optical system can be considered a communication channel and can be analyzed as such. There is a linear relationship (i.e., direct proportionality) between the intensity distribution in the image plane and that existing in the object, when the object is illuminated with incoherent light (e.g., sunlight or light from a large thermal source)" (Kingslake & Thompson, 2005, p. 5).

Consequently, the linear theory that emerged in response for use in describing new electronic systems can also be applied to optical image-forming systems; for instance, an electronic circuit can be characterized by its impulse response, in other words, its output for a brief impulse input of current or voltage (Kingslake & Thompson, 2005). Similarly, an optical system can also be characterized by an impulse response that, for an incoherent imaging system, is the intensity distribution in the image of a point source of light; the primary difference is that the optical impulse is a spatial one rather than a temporal impulse; otherwise, the fundamental concept is identical (Kingslake & Thompson, 2005). These are important considerations for industries seeking better ways to accomplish data processing and process management because it means that computer-assisted technologies can be applied to these once-limited optical devices. For example, Kingslake and Thompson point out that, "Once the appropriate impulse response function is known, the output of that system for any object intensity distribution can be determined by a linear superposition of impulse responses suitably weighted by the value of the intensity at each point in the object. For a continuous object intensity distribution this sum becomes an integral" (2005, p. 6). Although this example concerns the use of an optical imaging system (the authors note that this is by far the most common use of optical elements today), the concept can actually be applied independent of considerations as to whether the receiving plane is an image plane or not. Therefore, an impulse response can be defined for an optical system that is deliberately defocussed or for systems used for the display of Fresnel or Fraunhofer diffraction patterns, for instance. These authors note that the Fraunhofer diffraction takes place when the light source and diffraction patterns are effectively at infinite distances from the diffracting system; by contrast, Fresnel diffraction occurs when one or both of the distances are finite (Kingslake & Thompson, 2005).

In his essay, "Pictures only a computer could love," Peter Weiss of Science News (2003) reports, "With a new generation of optics, engineers are recasting visual scenes for computers' consumption. To the human eye, these pictures are visual gibberish, hardly worth a single word, let alone a thousand. To computers, such data can be worth more words than you'd care to count" (p. 200). Underlying all of these innovations in digitally enhanced processing are improvements in new styles of lenses. Rather than employing the traditional concave and convex disks to develop images, optical engineers today are using oddly shaped, radically different lenses that are customized to take advantage of the strengths of computers. According to Joseph N. Mait of the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland, and the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., "Once you break away from thinking that the optics have to form something [people] recognize as an image, there are many things that you can do"; likewise, Eustace L. Dereniak of the University of Arizona in Tucson points out that, "There's no reason to go ahead and form an image" (in Weiss, 2003, p. 200). This researcher notes that even in nature, there are some species of beetles that are able to navigate through detection of specific colors or by the polarization of light in space without forming an image from the telemetry they receive. To date, there has been a "human-centrist" tendency to avoid such techniques because humans have tended to model optical instruments such as cameras after our own, image-making eyeballs (Weiss, 2003). There are innovations on the horizon as well that transcend the optical phenomena altogether; researchers expect to be able to make similar lenses that can process other segments of the electromagnetic spectrum. According to David J. Brady of Duke University in Durham, N.C., "It's a general change in the way you think about sensing" (in Weiss, 2003, p. 201). The technologies that stand to benefit from these radical new approaches include radar, computerized axial tomography (CAT) X-ray scanners, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems. These and other current and emerging technologies that rely on imaging and optical scanning techniques provide for improved methods of personal identification, better security and elimination of human errors compared with past methods; these techniques are discussed further below.

What imaging and optics has done for different industries. More and more industries today are enjoying the benefits of improved imaging and optical scanning techniques. These advantages have extended to improved inventory management and associated warehousing requirements, improved supply chains, better security and - increasingly - real-time tracking of inventory as it moves through the entire production, marketing and delivery systems. These technologies allow for automated identification and verification of individuals as well, a topic that is receiving an increasing amount of attention in a turbulent world characterized by unexpected acts of terrorism. Furthermore, these technologies are providing companies in almost every industry with an improved ability to manage their information, something that has assumed new levels of importance in the Age of Information. These technologies and their respective implications are discussed further below.

Imaging and Optics Technology.


Automatic Identification and Data Capture. The term "automatic identification" refers to "A means of identifying a product mechanically and entering the data obtained automatically into a computer" (a Dictionary of Business, 1996, p. 40). The most common applications of automatic identification include:

Bar codes.

Optical character recognition (OCR),

Magnetic ink character recognition (MICR),

Magnetic stripes, and Voice systems (a Dictionary of Business, 1996).

The ability of companies to automatically identify components and finished goods as they move through the supply chain has assumed increasing importance in a globalized marketplace. Consumers have benefited from these automatic identification technologies in countless ways. Furthermore, data capture applications have been extended to global mapping systems that have revolutionized consumer products by adding global positioning systems (GPS) that were originally developed for military purposes (Bildirici, 2004). According to this author, "Computer technology has been widely used in cartography since the 1970s. New technologies have led to a rapid development in the field of data capture in cartography and related disciplines. In developed countries in particular, the era of data capture is almost complete" (p. 43).

Such automated techniques also helped the U.S. Census Bureau successfully perform a wide range of functions for Census 2000, including data collection and data capture activities (Longini, Marshall, Palensky et al., 2002). In terms of navigation, a longer-term technology could involve electronic fixed-response transponders that are scanned via antennas that are embedded in the pavement, thereby providing obstruction-free scanning (Bowman, Hakim & Seidenstat, 1996).


Character Recognition. By the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Imaging and Optics.  (2005, March 15).  Retrieved September 28, 2021, from

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"Imaging and Optics."  15 March 2005.  Web.  28 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Imaging and Optics."  March 15, 2005.  Accessed September 28, 2021.