Researcher Receives U.S. Patent for Underwater Imaging Device

Although underwater imaging is used in marine exploration, oceanographic engineering, environmental protection, and identifying dangerous objects on the ocean floor, achieving good results is problematic. Image quality degrades in turbid or turbulent waters based on underwater complexities and equipment limitations. These images often suffer from contrast loss because light is scattered and absorbed as it travels in water. We see it as blurring.

Now, a new device the size of a soda can be a game-changer in advanced underwater imaging. Bing Ouyang, Ph., an associate research professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, and his team of researchers have received a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the new device.

Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

Performing active imaging of underwater objects, the entire system fits into the small container and mounts easily on a variety of undersea vehicles. It counters issues related to contrast loss, blurring, and light dispersal. It can easily be used by divers during deep-diving exercises, inspecting the underside of sea vessels, and underwater robotic operations.

The technology generates a sequence of coded illumination patterns coupled with a laser to light up the target. The designs are generated from a spatial light modulator acting on a laser beam. A high dynamic range camera records the sequence of images of the spatially, fair modulated target. In post-processing, the multi-frame-based backscattering mitigation and noise reduction through non-local mean and total-variation filtering are included. This integration of hardware and processing achieves the highest degree of image contrast enhancement while capturing details of low-reflectance objects of interest.

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