Optical Signature Recognition

The Center for Optical Signature Recognition strives to conceive and demonstrate useful leading-edge technologies involving optical sensing, discrimination and recognition. These technologies include sensor hardware and signal/pattern processing algorithms, matched to deduce useful and reliable information from various sensing situations. We develop methods essential to the conception, design, assessment, and improvement of civil and military geophysical remote sensing, surveillance, seeking, hiding, and advertising systems employing an optical (electro-optical/infrared) component. The optical spectral regime in which we operate spans the ultraviolet, the visible, and infrared regions (0.1 - 20 micrometers). We are expert in passive sensing, exploiting the best from the full range of observable features which include the spatiotemporal radiometric, spectral (colorimetric), and polarimetric signatures (appearance). Our R&D continually pursues both application-specific and general solutions to the following problems:

  • Which observables (e.g., spectral, spatial, temporal, polarimetric) "best" differentiate targets/constituents of interest  from non-targets?
  • What physical sensing concepts are appropriate and feasible for transducing the maximum "information"?
  • How can algorithmic techniques robustly discriminate targets and infer desired "state" information?
  • What are the designs and performance bounds for systems which maximize or minimize discriminability? 

We serve both government and private industry clients, including the R&D labs of the military services, NASA, NOAA, and prime aerospace contractors. We also pursue collaboration with academia; for instance we are an industrial affiliate of Northeastern's NSF-sponsored Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems (CenSSIS).

Research & Technology Areas

Applications

  • Detection, tracking, recognition, and surveillance of ground, sea, air and space vehicles
  • Geophysical and climate-change research via remote sensing of macro- and microphysical properties
  • Non-invasive medical diagnostics/screening
  • Object appearance, visibility, conspicuity (e.g., camouflage) engineering and optimization

Computational Intelligence

  • Pattern Recognition/Detection & Estimation Theory
  • Optimization
  • Computational Vision & Perception

Optical Sensing Systems Aspects

  • Electro-optical systems technology
  • Radiative transfer/atmospheric propagation models
  • Optical properties of materials
  • End-to-end physics-based simulations of sensor-object|scene encounters.

Facilities

  • Optical Remote Sensor Lab, supporting the assembly, alignment, calibration and testing of optical sensors.  Available LN2 (liquid nitrogen), roughing and ion vacuum pumps are particularly useful in working with infrared cryogenic sensors.  Illumination sources include mercury arc lamps, blackbodies, HeNe lasers, a novel xenon (9um) laser, argon ion lasers, and HeCd lasers.
  • Thermal infrared imager, employing microbolometer uncooled focal plane array (UFPA), 3-14 micrometers
  • Field-grade Fourier-transform IR spectrometer, with HgCdTe and InSb detectors, 10-inch telescope, 2-14 micrometers, 1 cm-1
  • Digital data and video image acquisition computer workstations
  • Heterogeneous software development and algorithm prototyping environments
  • Physics-based target & scene simulation codes
  • Computer-based design tools for optical appearance/ conspicuity engineering of objects.

Personnel

Frank J. Iannarilli Jr.
Frank J. Iannarilli Jr.
M.S., Electrical Engineering, Brown University

Mr. Iannarilli serves as director of the Center for Optical Signature Recognition, and has over 25 years experience in a broad range of EO/IR systems pursuits. His principal interests are computational intelligence theory and techniques and their application to optical sensing and imaging. He conceived and designed the Aerodyne-originated Paint Map Optimizer (PMO), a computer-aided design tool for optimizing object coating schemes to engineer their conspicuity. Other pursuits involve application of random field theory to model-based object recognition, hyperspectral and polarimetric imaging for computer vision and remote sensing, and state tracking of targets in clutter. In his former military position at the AF Geophysics Lab, he directed in-flight signature measurement operations. While there, he received the 1984 USAF Research and Development Award personally from Secretary of the Air Force.

John A. Conant
M.S., Physics, Carnegie-Mellon University

Mr. Conant has studied the prediction and detection of military target and background radiation signatures in the IR, Visible and UV including atmospheric transmission effects. His work includes extensive data analysis and modeling of a variety of military vehicles, including aircraft (fixed-and rotary-wing), cruise missiles, tactical and strategic missiles, ground vehicles, ships, low-altitude and high-altitude exhaust plumes and flames, and highway vehicles. Mr. Conant directed the Aerodyne development of SPIRITS, a detailed, validated first-principles target EO/IR spectral imaging model which is a U.S. Government standard for fixed-wing aircraft. He has led nearly every SPIRITS upgrade project since that time. He has also directed the development of several natural backgrounds models, with applications from space-viewing of the Earth, to detailed low altitude images of field and forest. He has strong interests in spatial and spectral processing for clutter rejection, and target detection and classification. He has contributed to studies on the use of multispectral techniques for detection and identification of missiles for both strategic and tactical missiles. Mr. Conant was for six years an Associate Editor of the journal Optical Engineering. He also co-authored a chapter in the IR/EO Systems Handbook, published by the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan (ERIM).

Herman E. Scott
Ph.D., Physics, Ohio State University

Dr. Scott is an Executive Vice President of Aerodyne and leads efforts in  commercializing its remote sensing technologies. He joined Aerodyne in 1982 and for many years led and grew its pursuits in optical remote sensing, signature modeling and control, and secured the position of the Aerodyne-developed SPIRITS code as a government reference standard model.  Previously, he was a leading civilian scientist at the Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC), where he raised its capabilities in turbine and rocket engine spectroscopic plume measurements to national prominence.  His research interests include spectroscopic methods for material diagnosis and identification.

Fred W. Bacon
M.A., Physics, University of Texas (Austin)

Mr. Bacon's research interests include monte carlo modeling of radiation transport, voice recognition, neural networks, genetic programming, automatic target recognition, combat models, signal processing and image analysis. His principal efforts entail physics based computer modeling, particularly in the areas of atmospheric radiative scattering in application to remote aerosol properties retrieval, and visible/thermal radiation transport for quantitative camouflage design (conspicuity suppression).  He designed extensive upgrades to the Aerodyne-originated Paint Map Optimizer (PMO), developing its capabilities for optimizing multispectral, spatially resolved camouflage patterns.  His previous work at UTexas/Austin's Applied Physics Laboratory involved both active and passive acoustic array signal processing for sonar and buried object detection. Mr. Bacon's thesis evaluated possible techniques for detecting fissionable material in marine sediments and involved extensive computer modeling of neutron diffusion.

Stephen Jones
M.S., Electrical Engineering, Northeastern University

Mr. Jones' research interests include automatic target recognition, image and signal processing, and computational intelligence methods.  He has led the signal processing, performance evaluation, and optical design of infrared and visible wavelength polarimetric hyperspectral imagers for both spaceborne detection of ground targets and for remote sensing of atmospheric aerosol properties. He also worked on the hardware design, sensor control software design and developement, optical alignment and field testing of an imaging MWIR spatial modulation sensor. His other recent work includes the development techniques for humanitarian demining using IR polarimetric imaging and microwave enhanced thermal imaging and the development of computer vision techniques for an intelligent transportation system (ITS) in the visible and LWIR bands.  Previously at CPI (formerly Varian), Mr. Jones was principal investigator on several contracts for development of novel ELINT and ECCM techniques.

Affiliated Personnel

Kurt Annen, Aerodyne Research Inc.

Publications

Nightime visible-band computations with SPIRITS, J. A. Conant, F. J. Iannarilli, F. W. Bacon, T. Deas, presented at the 32nd JANNAF Exhaust Plume and Signatures Subcommittee Meeting, part of the Proceedings of the JANNAF 44th Combustion, 32nd Airbreathing Propulsion, 32nd Exhaust Plume and Signatures, 26th Propulsion Hazards Joint Subcommittee Meeting, Arlington VA, April 18-21, 2011. JSC CD-66.

Quantitative camouflage paint selection for the CH-47F helicopter, F. W. Bacon, F. J. Iannarilli, Jr., J. A. Conant, T. Deas, M. Dinning, Color Res. Appl., 34, 406-416, 2009.

Updates to the Polarization Version of SPIRITS, J. A. Conant, F. J. Iannarilli, D. C. Robertson, 12th SPIRITS User Group Meeting, Hanscom AFB, MA, 12-16 May, 2008. {abstract}

Improved Computation of Finite-Width Glint Lobes in SPIRITS, J. A. Conant, 12th SPIRITS User Group Meeting, Hanscom AFB, MA, 12-16 May, 2008. {abstract}

Visible band camouflage paint study for the CH-47F using SPIRITS, F.W. Bacon, F.J. Iannarilli, J.A. Conant, T. Deas, M. Dinning, JANNAF 29th Exhaust Plume Technology Subcommittee 11th SPIRITS User Group Meeting, 14-23 June, 2006 Littleton CO.

Determination of carbon in steel by laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy using a microchip laser and miniature spectrometer, Appl. Spectrosc. 59, 1098-1102, 2005.

Aluminum alloy analysis using microchip-laser induced breakdown spectroscopy, A. Freedman, F.J. Iannarilli Jr., J.C. Wormhoudt, Spectrochim. Acta B, 60, 1076-1082, 2005.

Realization of quantitative-grade fieldable snapshot imaging spectropolarimeter, S.H. Jones, F.J. Iannarilli, P.L. Kebabian, Optics Express, 12, 6559-6573, 2004.

Spectro-polarimetric remote surface-orientation measurement, F.J. Iannarilli, Jr., US Patent 6,678,632 (issued 13 January 2004) {abstract}

Feature selection for multi-class discrimination via mixed-integer linear programming, F. J. Iannarilli, Jr. and P. A. Rubin, IEEE Trans. Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 25:6 (2003). {abstract}

Staring IR Spatial Modulation Sensor (SIRSMS): Large-format performance from small-format IR focal plane arrays, J. Merchant, F.J. Iannarilli, S.H. Jones, and H.E. Scott, Proc. MSS Symp. on Passive Sensors, (2003). {abstract}

Effectiveness of helicopter visual motion cue suppression via camouflage patterning, F.W. Bacon, F.J. Iannarilli, and J. A. Conant, Proc. MSS Symp. on Camouflage, Concealment, and Deception, (2003). {abstract}

Development of a combined bidirectional reflectance and directional emittance model for polarization modeling, J.A. Conant, and F.J Iannarilli, Jr., Proc. SPIE, 4481, 206-215 (2002). {abstract}

Modeling of spectral emission images from fully 3D gaseous combustion plumes, J.A. Conant, Proc. SPIE, 4448, 8-15 (2001). {abstract}

Automated hyper/multi-spectral image analysis tool, J.A. Conant, and K.D. Annen, Proc. SPIE, 4381, 150-153 (2001). {abstract}

SPEAR - A LWIR polarimetric hyperspectral imager with perfect channel registration: sensor design, signal processing and field test results, S. Jones, F. Iannarilli, Jr., H. Scott,P. Kebabian, J. Mello, R. Lockwood, and S. Lipson, Proc. MSS Passive Sensors, (2000). {abstract}

Snapshot LWIR hyperspectral polarimetric imager for ocean surface sensing, F.J. Iannarilli, J.A. Shaw, S.H. Jones, and H.E. Scott, Proc. SPIE, 4133 (2000). {abstract}

Polarimetric Spectral Intensity Modulation (P-SIM): Enabling simultaneous hyperspectral and polarimetric imaging, F.J. Iannarilli, S.H. Jones, H.E. Scott, and P. Kebabian, Proc. SPIE, 3698 (1999). {abstract}

Quantifying key trade-off between IR polarimetric discriminability versus pixel resolution against complex targets, F.J. Iannarilli and J.A. Conant, Proc. SPIE, 3699 (1999). {abstract}

PMO: The multispectral materials-based pattern design optimizer, F.J. Iannarilli, Fred Bacon et al, Proc. IRIS Symp. on Camouflage, Concealment, and Deception, (1998). {abstract}

Hyperspectral IR polarimetry with applications in demining and unexploded ordnance detection, H.E. Scott, S.H. Jones, F. Iannarilli, and K. Annen , Proc. SPIE, 3534 (1998). {abstract}

Some approaches to infrared spectroscopy for detection of buried objects, C.A. DiMarzio, T. Vo-Dinh and H.E. Scott, Proc. SPIE 3392 (1998). {abstract}

Optical (IR/VIS/UV) multispectral vehicle coating/pattern optimizer, F.J. Iannarilli, Proc. IRIS Symp. on Camouflage, Concealment, and Deception, (1997). {abstract}

Scattered Ultraviolet Radiation in the Upper Stratosphere 2: Models and Measurements, K.Minschwaner, R.J. Thomas (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology), G.P. Anderson, L.A. Hall, J.H. Chetwynd (Phillips Lab), D.W. Rusch (University of Colorado), A. Berk (Spectral Sciences), J.A. Conant (Aerodyne Research), JGR, 100, No. D6, 11,165-11,171 (June 1995).

Multispectral IR signature polarimetry for detection of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), M.A. LeCompte, F.J. Iannarilli, D.B. Nichols, and R.R. Keever, Proc. SPIE, 2496 (1995). {abstract}

General Scattered Light (GSL) model for advanced radiance calculations, E. Niple, Proc. SPIE, 2469 (1995).

Techniques for advanced modeling of cavity IR signatures, E. Niple and M. Weinberg, Proc. IRIS Symp. on Targets, Backgrounds, and Discrimination, (1995).

Predicted performance of counter-air target ID using IR polarimetry, F.J. Iannarilli and M.A. LeCompte, (SECRET) Proc. IRIS Symp. on Targets, Backgrounds, and Discrimination, (1994).

Model-guided improvements in shipboard IRST discrimination algorithms, F.J. Iannarilli, Proc. IRIS Symp. on Targets, Backgrounds, and Discrimination, (1994). {abstract}

Signature Prediction and Modeling, J.A. Conant and M.A. LeCompte in The Infrared & Electro-Optical Systems Handbook, Vol. 4 - Electro-Optical Systems Design, Analysis, and Testing, ed. by Michael C. Dudzik, Environmental Research Institute of Michigan, SPIE Optical Engineering Press, Bellingham WA (1993).

Paint Mapping Technique for Optimal Coating-Based EO/IR Contrast Reduction, F.J. Iannarilli and E.R. Niple, U.S. Army Low Observable Materials Symposium, (1992).

Spectral Infrared Imaging of Targets and Scenes (SPIRITS), J.A. Conant, Chapter 5 of Volume X of the DARPA Air Vehicle Detection Handbook, ed. by Hans Wolfhard, Institute for Defense Analysis, Arlington VA .