RIT among leading researchers developing platform that can detect image manipulation

CIS Professor Chris Kanan contributes to research on media forensics

Oct. 12, 2017
Rich Kiley


Can you tell which image is real and which has been manipulated?

RIT is part of a select group of world-class researchers studying the fact and fiction of imagery in today’s digital culture by developing an algorithmic-based platform that can detect image manipulation.

Image alteration is a complex issue that government officials want to solve with a program known as MediFor—short for media forensics. Media forensics is the scientific analysis of recorded media in the form of audio, video and still-imagery evidence obtained during the course of investigations and litigious proceedings.

The researchers’ goal for the MediFor project is to automate the detection of image manipulations, provide detailed information about how these manipulations were performed, and determine the overall integrity of visual media.

“It’s a fairly widespread issue that the government wants to get ahead of with this three-year project,” said Christye Sisson, the Ronald and Mabel Francis Professor and chair of the photographic sciences program in RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences. Sisson is RIT’s principal investigator for the project.

“The more mature digital imaging has become, the methods by which you can manipulate images become increasingly sophisticated,” she added. “The speed at which this is happening is outpacing the tools that people have for detection, so we’re trying to exhaust and analyze every possibility for how these images could potentially be manipulated and how that manipulation can be detected.”

Research teams include imaging experts from academia, industry and government agencies, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). According to Sisson, RIT is creating high-provenance data and image manipulations as part of the project’s data team, led by PAR Government Systems Corp., a government contractor based in Rome, N.Y.

Sisson noted that applications of the research’s findings are widespread—from law enforcement and intelligence agencies to counter-terrorism and academic research integrity.

A growing problem

While some image manipulation is benign, performed for fun or artistic value, other “doctoring” is done for nefarious or adversarial purposes, including propaganda or misinformation campaigns, Sisson said.

In recent years, consumer imaging technology—primarily digital cameras and mobile phones—has become ubiquitous, enabling people the world over to take and share images and video instantaneously. Mirroring this rise in digital imagery, however, has been the ability for even relatively unskilled users to manipulate and distort visual media.

The manipulation of visual media is enabled by the wide-scale availability of sophisticated image- and video-editing applications that falsify images in ways that are extremely difficult to detect—either visually or with current image analysis and visual media forensics tools. Many of the forensic tools used today lack sophistication and address only some aspects of media authentication.

The MediFor project’s goal is to develop an “end-to-end platform” that will perform a complete and automated forensic analysis of imagery that does not exist today.

According to Sisson, RIT is creating the ground-truth data for the project by photographing a large variety of scenes and contexts with as many devices as possible to create a wide frame of reference for government officials. The RIT team uses these images to create manipulations based on real scenarios to test new algorithms of detection being developed by other partner universities on the MediFor project.

Along with these manipulations, Sisson said, the RIT team will create an “answer key” that will chronicle all actions made in a manipulation to see how well the algorithms perform in their evaluation.

RIT professors Ted Kinsman and Christopher Kanan are assisting Sisson on the project, along with several undergraduate students in the photo sciences, imaging science, motion picture science, and media arts and technology programs.

“RIT has this incredible and unparalled imaging continuum with our programs that you just don’t see anywhere else,” Sisson said. “We’re extremely well-suited for this project.”

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Original Source: University News

Collaboration strengthens Rwanda through education

Oct. 12, 2017
Susan Gawlowicz

story photo

Associate Professor Ernest Fokoue, left, and Professor Anthony Vodacek on a recent trip to Rwanda where they are working to develop higher education.

Professors in RIT’s College of Science are working with faculty at the University of Rwanda and the University of Kibungo, promoting that nation’s development by helping to build graduate programs and a culture of scholarship in a country healing from civil war and genocide.

Higher education in Rwanda has been a priority during Anthony Vodacek’s two-year tenure as RIT’s Paul and Francena Miller Chair in International Education. Through strategic use of travel funding, Vodacek—whose tenure as chair ends in December—has created the potential for collaborative research opportunities and meaningful international experiences for students.

“In this last decade, I’ve seen enormous strides toward transforming Rwanda to a knowledge-based economy,” Vodacek said.

Since 2008, Vodacek, a professor in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, has visited Rwanda nearly 20 times. His work there focuses on remote sensing and environmental research and has led to many contacts in higher education.

Vodacek’s colleagues at the URwanda public education system invited him to work on proposals to build graduate centers through a World Bank program. URwanda was awarded four African Centers of Excellence in Higher Education, three of which named RIT as their primary international partner. They are the Centers of Excellence in Data Science, the Internet of Things and for Teaching and Learning Mathematics and Science. RIT’s role will be to provide teaching and research-supervision of MS and Ph.D. students and collaboration on joint proposals and journal articles.

The World Bank has established nearly 25 Centers of Excellence to promote graduate education in Africa. While graduate education is available on the continent, many students seek advanced degrees abroad in North America, Europe or Asia.

“The problem is that if they don’t return, it’s a significant brain drain,” Vodacek said.

The total population in Africa is 1.2 billion, and more than 600 million are under the age of 20, Vodacek said.

Many students in this generation of African scientists, engineers and designers will be shaped by the World Bank’s Centers of Excellence, and RIT’s expertise will be part of their education, said James Myers, associate provost of International Education and Global Programs.

“RIT’s global strategy focusses on being a leader engaged in the Centers of Excellence reflecting our strengths in science, engineering, technology and the arts,” Myers said.

During the proposal process, Vodacek recruited Ernest Fokoué, an associate professor in the School of Mathematical Sciences, and Scott Franklin, director of RIT’s Center for Advancing Science/Math Teaching, Learning and Evaluation.

With Miller chair funding, Vodacek, Fokoué and Franklin traveled to Rwanda to establish research collaborations and present at conferences. In July, RIT co-hosted a scientific conference at the University of Kibungo, a small private institution, and met with the leaders of the African Centers for Excellence at URwanda.

“My own feeling is that Africa is going to be the continent of this century in a similar way the development of Asia marked the end of the last century,” Vodacek said. “My effort as Miller Chair is to position RIT to contribute to development in Rwanda and ultimately across Africa.”

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Original Source: University News

Henrietta company's aerial imaging technology helps hurricane victims
Remote Sensing

CIS Professor Carl Salvaggio describes CIS contributions to advances in remote sensing

Sep. 15, 2017
Sean Lahman


Floodwaters from tropical storm Harvey surround homes in Port Arthur, Texas, on August 31, 2017.   (Photo: Gerald Herbert, AP)

Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast with an unforgiving fury. Wind gusts of more than 130 mph battered buildings when the storm made landfall on Aug. 25, and in the days that followed, many areas around Houston received more than 50 inches of rain.

By the time the massive storm moved out of the area, roughly 450 square miles of Harris County were under water, and tens of thousands of people were displaced. 

For many of those storm victims, the discomfort of having to evacuate their homes was compounded by the not-knowing. With flood waters making it impossible to return home, they were left wondering whether there was anything to return to at all.

To help those victims, Henrietta-based EagleView Technologies launched a website to show aerial images depicting what Harvey left in its wake. 

Users can enter a street address to see before and after images side-by-side. These images, in some cases just hours old, show areas that have been impacted by flooding and the extent of damage caused by high winds.

"We did something similar in 2008 for Hurricane Ike when that hit the greater Houston area," said Frank Giuffrida, vice president of engineering at EagleView. "Galveston Island was evacuated and basically shut off. FEMA didn't let folks back for several weeks."

EagleView, formerly known as Pictometry, provides aerial imagery and data analytics for local and federal government agencies, most of which is captured by its fleet of planes equipped with specialized cameras and backed by powerful software.

Over the years, the company has captured more than 350 million images, covering more than 90 percent of the most populated areas in the United States.  

They're capturing these images for their clients: state and local governments or insurance companies. In this instance, that work can also benefit the general public in a real and immediate way.

"In this case, we have complete coverage of that whole Gulf Coast area," Guiffrida. That meant EagleView already had a library of "before" images, all captured within the last two years.

Aerial photo of Houston neighborhood shows damage to

Aerial photo of Houston neighborhood shows damage to houses after Hurricane Harvey (Photo: Provided by EagleView)

For other major storms when they didn't have that coverage, like Hurricane Katrina in 2005, they could go out and capture it as the storm approached.

It's a huge challenge, of course, to do aerial photography in the days just before or just after a major storm.

The weather is only one of the challenges the pilots face. More difficult are the temporary flight restrictions that get put into place while the Coast Guard conducts search and rescue operations, or when Air Force One brings the president to town.

"Planning and staging are a huge part of this process," Guiffrida said. "As soon as it becomes safe to fly, we'll be opportunistic about where we can go."

EagleView deployed 22 planes to the Houston area in the days before Harvey hit, getting them pre-positioned based on where the impact was forecast to be most severe.

They deployed a similar number to Florida as Hurricane Irma approached a week after Harvey, and they'll be prepared to deploy for other storms that follow.

Once the worst of Harvey passed and conditions were safe, those planes in Texas took to the air and started capturing images.

Within a few days, they had logged more than 350 flight hours and covered roughly 5,600 square miles, capturing about a million images. They're still flying, continuing to record conditions on the ground as they evolve.

Local research

Pictometry was founded by John Ciampa, a former Rochester Institute of Technology professor, and  Stephen Schultz, an RIT graduate.

The company and the school have had a long partnership, and RIT's research in the field of aerial imaging has continued to push forward the boundaries of what is possible. 

Whether the images are captured by airplanes, remotely piloted drones, or satellites high above the earth, building a library of high-resolution images is just the first step.

"Nobody cares about the pictures anymore," says RIT professor Carl Salvaggio. "A person or even a team of people can't look at a million images.  We have to teach computers to look at those batches and tell us what's interesting."

He and his colleagues at RIT's Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory are doing just that.  Whether it's evaluating the health of each plant in a cornfield or inspecting gas pipelines in remote areas, the images captured from above are just a means to an end.

"When you talk to a utility company like RG&E, they don't want 8,000 images of power lines," Salvaggio said. "They want to know which poles have broken conductors or wires in need of repair."

Computers use machine learning to do that, analyzing each of the images, understanding what each image shows, and kicking out a report for repair crews with the location of problem spots.

Over the last decade, drones have become cheaper and the quality of pictures they take keeps improving. The weakest link? The humans who pilot them.

"Pilots are not good at keeping the camera aimed straight down, at flying straight, at keeping a consistent altitude," Salvaggio said.  "All of those things affect the quality of the images. That's why we're working on totally autonomous flight."

Technology is already pretty good for having a drone fly itself from point to point. The goal would be to have a human launch a drone, have it recognize its surroundings and plot its own course.  

"To analyze storm damage, for example, we're teaching the camera to fly up to about 150 feet, begin to understand the geography of a rooftop, and build a 3-D model," Salvaggio explains. "Then it flies 10 feet above the building taking pictures."

And within RIT's drone program is a specialty lab called IPLER — the Information Products Lab for Emergency Response.  Researchers there have worked on projects to monitor forest fires and to assess flood and earthquake damage.

Smarter drones

After a massive event like Hurricane Harvey, insurance companies are going to be overwhelmed with calls from policyholders. One of the things that EagleView can do is create a heat map to identify the areas that have been hit the hardest.

"They can't send claims adjustors to every home on day one," Giuffrida said.  

While they're doing that, machine learning algorithms can start the process of assessing damage on individual homes. In some cases, that can be done from images captured by manned aircraft. In other cases, they use drones, which can get much closer to the damaged structure. 

It's a service EagleView has been offering for several years, and they work with 18 of the top 20 property and casualty insurance carriers in the United States.

They can kick out a report that assesses how much damage a homeowner has endured, and in many cases the imagery is sufficient to allowing adjusters to close claims without physically visiting the property.


Machine-learning applied imagery from Hurricane Harvey.

Machine-learning applied imagery from Hurricane Harvey. (Photo: EagleView Technologies)

"Machine learning is relatively new technology," Giuffrida said. "It's going to become better and better with time."

One of the other applications for this technology is property assessment.  

"An assessor doesn't have the bandwidth to visit every single home in a jurisdiction every year," Guiffrida said. Aerial imagery can capture 50,000 homes, compare it to images from a year earlier, detecting which ones have undergone significant changes.


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Original Source: Democrat and Chronicle

RIT scientist organizes second international symposium on ‘Global Women of Light’ Program is part of the Optical Society’s meeting Sept. 17

Sep. 13, 2017
Susan Gawlowicz

story photo

Jie Qiao is collaborating with the Optical Society (OSA) Foundation to host the second annual symposium for women in optics and photonics on Sept. 17 in Washington, D.C., as part of the Frontiers in Optics OSA Conference. (Elizabeth Lamark)

Rochester Institute of Technology associate professor Jie Qiao is collaborating with the Optical Society (OSA) Foundation to host the second annual symposium for women in optics and photonics.

The free Global Women of Light Symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 in Washington, D.C., as part of the Frontiers in Optics OSA Conference. Keynote speaker Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of OSA, The Optical Society, will present “Advancing Women in Optics.”

Panel and round-table discussions will also center on the theme “Collectively Advancing Women Leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering and Entrepreneurship.” Panelists include Aleksandra Boskovic, director, Corning Corp.; Dominique Dagenais, director, U.S. National Science Foundation; Frederica Darema, director, Air Force Office of Scientific Research; Susan O’Keefe, vice president, Edmund Optics; and Ursula Keller, professor, ETH Zürich.

Qiao, associate professor in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, focuses her research on ultrafast-laser-based photonics and optics fabrication, and optical metrology. She leads a team of students from all levels and mentors two female Ph.D. students. Qiao is also founder and chair of WiSTEE Connect, a professional association with an international membership that promotes women’s career growth through mentorship and leadership.

Qiao and the OSA Foundation organized the first Global Women of Light Symposium at the centennial OSA conference held last year in Rochester. The event was attended by 100 individuals from 25 countries and 80 institutions. Attendees from China, France and Pakistan have since started WiSTEE Connect chapters, Qiao said.

“The goal of the second Global Women of Light Symposium is to continue building a strong network among women across academia, industry and government, and to cooperatively establish strategies to advance women's leadership across career ranks,” she said.

Registration for Global Women of Light is free. A limited number of travel grants are available by submitting a form to info@wisteeconnect.org. Registration to the OSA Frontier in Optics conference is not required to attend Global Women of Light.

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Original Source: University News

Conference shows how imaging science can help uncover secrets of history

Jun. 16, 2017
James Goodman

Photos of southern Africa on Martellus map before (left) and after imaging science techniques applied.

Photos of southern Africa on Martellus map before (left) and after imaging science techniques were applied. (Photo: Lazarus Project)

Rochester earned the reputation of being the Imaging Capital, when the Eastman Kodak Co. was king, but the playing field is now different and imaging science has found expression in many different forms of technology.

One of the new areas of imaging science that Rochester hopes to take the lead in is using technology to help decipher historical documents that could not otherwise be read because they are damaged, decayed or simply aren’t legible.

Experts in such an application of imaging technology from Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester have formed a group, R-CHIVE (Rochester Cultural Heritage Imaging, Visualization, and Education), which is holding its first conference on Monday and Tuesday.

Among the featured guests is Chet Van Duzer, a fellow at the U.S. Library of Congress who will discuss how imaging science helped make readable a map that Christopher Columbus might have studied.

Another speaker, Michael Phelps, is executive director of the California-based Early Manuscripts Electronic Library. He has collaborated with St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt in using imaging techniques to recover erased text at this library, which is said to be the oldest continually run library in the world.

The conference, which is open to the public, is a first step to raise Rochester’s profile as a go-to place in this emerging field.

"We want them to come to Rochester — or at least to reach out to us — to learn how to do it," said David Messinger, who is the director of the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at RIT.

Last fall, R-CHIVE was formed by Messinger along with RIT imaging science professor Roger L. Easton Jr., who has worked on numerous projects to decipher historic texts, and Gregory Heyworth, who has collaborated with Easton and had just joined the UR faculty as an associate professor of English.

During the spring semester, R-CHIVE held brainstorming sessions every couple of weeks, drawing about 20 students, faculty and staff from both schools.

Although application of the imaging technology depends on the project, the goal is the same: Make historical texts and other treasures of history readable.

Easton’s expertise is in spectral imaging processing.

The text to be deciphered is exposed to a wide range of different wavelengths of light — from ultraviolet to infrared. 

"We illuminate the object with different wavelengths and measure how the light is reflected. Different features reflect light differently," said Easton.Join for as low as$0.56/wk.Learn More

A digital camera with a special lens allows the wavelengths to be clearly recorded on the camera’s sensor.

Each wavelength records different characteristics of the text being studied.

By using computer software, Easton can accentuate the contrasts between text and parchment that are recorded on the sensor. Even when the ink was erased, differences between where the text was written and the parchment can be brought out.

"We can enhance very subtle differences and contrasts and reveal what the eye can't see," said Easton.

Easton, who will provide an overview of imaging models at the conference, has used this technique to study ancient manuscripts at St. Catherine’s Monastery as well as in such other places as Cambridge, England, Rome and Udupi, India.

Last year, he completed helping University of Nebraska scholar Adrian Wisnicki on a project to decipher the 1870s diaries of David Livingstone.

The British explorer has become familiar to many because of the greeting (“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”) that he received when he met with another British explorer, Henry Stanley, in Africa.

The first transcripts of the diaries were published in 2011. According to a University of Nebraska article about this project, the writings provide new insights. “Livingstone witnessed an atrocity — the massacre of more than 400 people by slave traders — and his reports back to Great Britain sent shockwaves through the country and the East Africa slave trade was ultimately ended.”

Heyworth, who has a Ph.D. in medieval comparative literature from Princeton University, contacted Easton in 2009 because he was having trouble deciphering a damaged manuscript.

They struck up a friendship and formed the Lazarus Project. Accompanied by other scholars — including Van Duzer and Phelps  — and technical experts, they have traveled around the world restoring everything from maps and manuscripts to cave paintings.

"Lazarus, of course, was the man Christ raised from dead. I thought this was a good metaphor for what we are trying to do for manuscripts," said Heyworth.

Heyworth, who will give the introductory remarks Monday at the conference, recently headed up an effort to using imaging science to make readable the damaged sheet music of an 18th century concerto by the German composer Georg Philipp Telemann.

The sheet music, which was in a palace in Dresden, had been damaged by flooding of the Elbe River caused by the Allied bombing of that city in World War II.

Students in Heyworth's visual media studies class worked on the project along with a graduate student and three alumni from the Eastman School of Music

The concerto was performed by the graduate student and alumni last month at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.

Messinger will give a presentation at the conference about how he has helped determine how a map of Great Britain was made in the 15th century. Work on making the original map was done over the course of that century.

Scientists using imaging science to examine the map at the University of Oxford, in England, contacted Messinger.

 "They needed help in analyzing the data," said Messinger.

He was able to determine that groups of towns were put on the map during the same time because similar ink was used to mark their names and locations. Different inks were used for different groupings.

Even with imaging science, there remains some educated guesswork in zeroing in on details.

The map that Columbus might have consulted  — made by Henricus Martellus — is now at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. But whether Columbus looked at this map or another by Martellus remains uncertain.

"There is no Columbus thumb print on this map, but we know he was influenced by a map similar to this by the same mapmaker," said Van Duzer.


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Original Source: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

NASA astronaut photography gets big boost from RIT students and faculty
student research

May. 11, 2017
Lauren Peace


Kevin Moser, an imaging science student from Rochester, Minn., presented an algorithm on May 3 to NASA officials at Johnson Space Center. (Photo by Peter A. Blacksberg)

An informal collaboration among RIT students, alumni and professors culminated in a meeting last week at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Kevin Moser, an imaging science student from Rochester, Minn., and RIT alumnus Peter A. Blacksberg ’75 (photography) made the trip south to meet with the heads of various NASA departments and present an algorithm that Moser spent the last year developing under the Center for Detectors at RIT.

Moser’s work represents the culmination of research and development done by several student predecessors on the Cosmic Radiation Damage Image Repair (CRIDR) project. The algorithm he developed will remove the effects of bad pixels damaged by cosmic rays that penetrate detectors in the commercial cameras used to take photographs by astronauts on the International Space Station. It replaces values in the bad pixels with a statistical representative of values in surrounding pixels.

“This project was initially just summer work for me, but I had the opportunity to turn it into my senior project and continue to work on it throughout the year,” said Moser, who became involved after responding to an online job posting in 2016. “Seeing it all come together and having the opportunity to visit the Johnson Space Center was really rewarding.”

Moser will present his work during the Center for Imaging Science senior project presentations on Friday, May 12.

Blacksberg, who has a passion for both photography and space, bought a ticket to hear astronaut Don Pettit speak in New York City in 2014. During the lecture, Pettit pointed out spurious pixel values in certain images that he said were the result of damage caused by high-energy particles that cause detectors in cameras to deteriorate when exposed to the harsh radiation environment in space.

Blacksberg recognized this as a problem that needed a solution and knew that RIT was the place to find it.

“I approached Dr. Pettit after the lecture and introduced myself,” said Blacksberg. “I asked him if he was familiar with RIT and gave him a business card. Little did I know that a friendship would form.”

In April 2015, Blacksberg arranged for Pettit to visit campus to present his work to the RIT community. It was during this visit that Pettit met with a handful of RIT professors and student researchers to discuss ways to reduce the damage to photographs caused by cosmic rays in space.

Don Figer, director of the Center for Detectors, was part of the meeting.

“Peter and Don came to us with this problem a few years ago, looking for a way to ‘fix’ damaged images,” Figer said. “This project is very different than any other project I’ve worked on because ours tend to have a standard project management flow, and this one does not. It’s more collaborative, and we’ve had several students work on it, Kevin being the current one.”

When Pettit was pointing out the damaged pixels in his images, he was referring to regions of his photographs that contained pixels with values of stark contrast to their neighbors. Visually, these appeared as very bright spots in an otherwise dark scene and vice versa. A similar effect can be seen in a flat-screen TV that has pixels that are permanently “on.”

“When a photograph is taken in space, some of the pixels are altered in a way that causes them to produce their own signal,” said Figer. “Detectors normally produce a little bit of signal anyway, but cosmic rays are damaging the detectors in a way that is causing the pixels to produce bigger signals than they typically would. We use the word ‘damage’ to describe it.”

While damaged images could be opened in Photoshop and touched up individually, this process is unfeasible for NASA, where images come in at a rate of 10,000 to 50,000 per week.

The algorithm developed by Moser and others at RIT provides a post-processing fix to the problem.

“Kevin’s algorithm isn’t finding the real information and putting it back in the pixel, rather it’s finding the bad pixel and then replacing the signal in that pixel with an average of the surrounding pixels,” Figer said.

Although the algorithm does produce some false positives and false negatives, it marks a big step forward in the efforts to find a long-term solution. Pettit said that he is excited to see the results of the continued efforts in the future.

“I can see many applications for the process both for my photographs and those of Earth-bound astrophotographers,” Pettit said. “I am especially pleased to have RIT involved with our NASA photography and photo science folks—many of them are RIT alumni. What really matters is inspiring the next generation to be involved in science and discovery, and I think RIT is doing just that.”

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Original Source: University News

The solution to the declining bee population may lie in drones

CIS Professor Jan VanAardt interviewed for WHEC-TV report

Mar. 30, 2017
Brianna DiPilato

The declining honey bee population could have some significant impacts on local fruit farmers and beekeepers that sell honey.

Luckily for beekeeper and operator of Brighton Honey Ward Graham, his bees are doing just fine this season but he says it is a struggle trying to keep them alive.

"It's becoming more visible, people are starting to realize this is a problem,” said Graham.

Graham says he believes the bee population problem stems from impacts from the environment.

"With pesticides and climate change right now is really devastating bees," said Graham.

So could the solution to this problem lie in the form of gadgets like drones?

Engineers at the Rochester Institute of Technology say it's possible. They've already found uses for drones in the agricultural world, using them to help farmers tend to specific plants without having to treat an entire field.

"We can literally look at the plant level and tell if a plant is thirsty, if a plant needs nutrients or if a plant is sick,” said Jan Van Aardt, Imaging Science Professor at RIT.

Engineers also say developing and using pollinating drones is still a ways off.

"These types of drone systems we're talking about, like the ones here, are very large in size, so for that bee application obviously you'd want it to be much, much smaller,” says RIT Mechanical Engineering Professor Agamemnon Crassidis. "Possibly within five to ten years, I can see that happening but as of today, we're not quite there.”

However, beekeepers like Graham see these drones just as a temporary solution.

“One, yes this is a stopgap to get us past this problem but two, let's focus on the underlying problem and try to mitigate that impact.” Said Graham.

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Original Source: WHEC-TV

Connections: Trying to solve one of the world's great mysteries -- and read ancient books

Professor Roger Easton interviewed on WXXI

Mar. 6, 2017
Evan Dawson


For all of ways we use the term "Epicurean," here's something strange: the original works of Epicurus himself have never been found. It's only through letters and quotations that we glimpse his work. But what if a library on a seaside villa contains the lost works of Epicurus -- and dozens of others?

When Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in 79 AD, it also buried Herculaneum. That seaside estate contained a library of many scrolls, and the volcanic ash preserved the scrolls... in a manner of speaking. They look like lumps of coal, but top scientists are desperate to find a way to either unspool them without destroying them, or to use new technology to peer inside. What might we find? How could we do it? What other ancient texts are begging to be read, if we can only figure out how? Our guests:

  • Brent Seales, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science, and director of the Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments at the University of Kentucky
  • Roger Easton, professor of imaging science and director of the Laboratory for Imaging of Historical Artifacts at the Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Greg Heyworth, associate professor of English and Textual Science and director of the Lazarus Project at the University of Rochester

Click here to access the recorded interview on the WXXI web site.

Original Source: WXXI

RIT helps advance space camera being tested on ISS
Detector Research

Imaging technology could improve search for distant planets

Mar. 6, 2017
Susan Gawlowicz


Imaging technology advanced by researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology and Florida Institute of Technology is being tested on the International Space Station and could someday be used on future space telescopes.

Imaging technology advanced by researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology and Florida Institute of Technology is being tested on the International Space Station and could someday be used on future space telescopes.

A new twist on the charge injection device camera, originally developed in 1972 by General Electric Co., fine tunes the array of pixels for improved exposure control in low light conditions. The enhanced technology could give scientists a new method for imaging planets around other stars and improve the search for habitable Earth-like planets.

Zoran Ninkov, professor in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, and Daniel Batcheldor, head of physics and Space Sciences at FIT, designed the charge injection device camera to capture contrasts between light emitted by astronomical objects.

“CID arrays offer considerable promise in many applications due to the focal plane architecture that allows random pixel access and non-destructive readout,” said Ninkov, a member of RIT’s Center for Detectors and Future Photon Initiative. “In addition to improving presently available devices, the development of next-generation imaging arrays promise considerable flexibility in read-out and on-chip processing for the future.”

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, on Feb. 19, carried the charge injection device to the International Space Station in the cargo of supplies and science experiments. Astronauts have installed the camera on a platform outside the space station. They will test the camera for six months.

“We expect to start seeing results by the end of April,” said Batcheldor, lead scientist on the project. “A complex test pattern will be sent from a successfully operated camera through the ISS systems and down to the ground. A successful demonstration of CIDs on the International Space Station will put this technology at the NASA Technology Readiness Level 8, which means it’s ready to fly as a primary instrument on a future space telescope.”

Batcheldor is a former post-doctoral research associate in RIT’s School of Physics and Astronomy and a former associate research scientist in RIT’s Center for Imaging Science. He and Ninkov have worked together on this experiment for years. They previously have tested charge injection devices from ground-based observatories. Limitations created by the Earth’s atmosphere prevent the sensor from capturing images sharp enough to detect planets in other solar systems, Batcheldor noted.

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Original Source: University News

FuzeHub Announces Grant Awards from the Five-Million-Dollar Fund to Support Innovation and Manufacturing Throughout New York State

CIS Professor Jie Qiao among recipients

Mar. 1, 2017

(Albany, NY – March 1, 2017) — FuzeHub, a not-for-profit organization responsible for assisting small to medium-sized manufacturing companies (SMEs) in New York State by matching them with technical and business resources, recently launched the Jeff Lawrence Manufacturing Innovation Fund. Lawrence, who passed away in 2015, was a top executive at the Center for Economic Growth, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center for the Capital Region, and a champion for New York manufacturing and entrepreneurial communities.

The Manufacturing Innovation Fund, consisting of $1 million annually for five years, supports a set of activities designed to spur technology development and commercialization across New York State. FuzeHub is administering this fund as part of its role as the Empire State Development (ESD)-designated statewide MEP center.

As part of the fund, FuzeHub offers Manufacturing Innovation Grants. The grants are available to not-for-profit organizations, including higher education institutions, in New York State proposing innovative projects to be undertaken with small and mid-sized manufacturers or early stage companies. Projects can include prototype development, proof-of-concept manufacturing, certain equipment purchases, manufacturing scale-up, market identification, and other projects to advance manufacturing capabilities. The fund will also be used to launch a commercialization competition this fall, with plans to formally announce the details in late spring.

The second round of grant awardees are projected to incrementally add 46 new jobs to both existing and startup companies across New York State in the next two years. “One of the goals of the fund, and the Manufacturing Innovation Grants, is to spur economic development in the manufacturing sector, and we’re seeing that even these small investments in manufacturing projects are allowing companies to add jobs, strengthening their teams and contribute to their growth,” FuzeHub Executive Director Elena Garuc noted. “These projects are a great example of how New York’s innovation assets are supporting industry and contributing to economic growth in New York,” she added.

FuzeHub is pleased to announce the second set of grantees:

Center for Economic Growth – $75,000

The Center for Economic Growth (CEG) is working with ThermoAura Inc. to help them with the integration of new equipment into their manufacturing process to enable the high-volume manufacture of advanced nanocrystalline thermoelectric alloys. ThermoAura is an early stage company commercializing high-performance nanostructured thermoelectrics produced by a unique chemical method. Through working with CEG and the new equipment the project will support, ThermoAura will be able to decrease assembly times by more than four-fold, permit a three-fold increase in the number of parts produced per cycle and yield per-unit manufacturing costs that are the best in the world and up to 20% more competitive with overseas manufacturers. (Capital Region)

Clarkson University – $75,000

Clarkson University is creating a new shared laboratory for both academic and industry collaboration in which both will have access to laboratory tools and equipment. The new space, named the Clarkson Biomaterials Characterization Laboratory, will use the Manufacturing Innovation Grant award to purchase a Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer/ infrared (IR) microscope for the purpose of developing and manufacturing next-generation metamaterials-enhanced infrared imaging systems for commercial, security and defense markets. Industry demand for the FTIR/IR microscope at Clarkson is driven by Phoebus Optoelectronics LLC, which has been performing metamaterials research, development and commercialization over the last ten years. The project with Clarkson will generate significant economic impact for Phoebus Optoelectronics, Clarkson University, Potsdam and the surrounding communities, including the creation of 10 high quality jobs over the next two years. (North Country)

Cornell Center for Materials Research – $58,926

Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR) and Professor Yong Joo of Cornell University’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering are working with IdealChain, a spinoff of Buckingham Manufacturing, who manufactures safety products (harnesses, rescue systems, etc.), to develop and build a bench-scale multi-nozzle Air-Controlled (AC) electrospray system for encapsulation of dyes, to use as stress indicators in safety products.  The resulting roll-to-roll electrospray system will be used by IdealChain to fabricate stress-indicating fibers and patches for safety equipment, helping the user to determine when to safely retire their equipment.  The manufacturing technology originally developed through the CCMR Industrial Partnerships Program between the Joo Group and Buckingham Manufacturing not only has a large impact on the safety industry, but also wide-ranging ramifications for the fragrance, food, drug delivery and self-healing material industries. Additionally, this project will help IdealChain add 10 new jobs in the next two years. (Southern Tier)

Cornell Nanoscale Science & Technology Facility – $75,000

The Cornell NanoScale Facility (CNF) at Cornell University has partnered with Xallent LLC to develop a next generation diagnostic tool to more rapidly and economically test and characterize semiconductor devices and thin film materials during manufacturing. This tool is built on Xallent’s innovative nanoscale imaging and probing technology. The ability to rapidly probe and measure electrical components at the nanoscale for diagnostics and failure analysis non-destructively is expected to tap a broad range of industry applications. The Manufacturing Innovation Grant will be used to adapt Xallent’s nanomachine platforms to analytical instruments at the Cornell NanoScale Facility for validation, user interface focus, and reliability studies to ready the company for product launch and scale up. Additionally, this project will help Xallent add 8 new jobs by the end of 2019. (Southern Tier)

Cornell University – $74,980

Cornell University researchers and VitaScan have developed the VitaScan diagnostics platform: a low cost and portable instrument that can determine micronutrient deficiencies including vitamin D and iron from a finger stick of blood. A key innovation that makes this possible is the design and manufacturing of a proprietary lateral flow assay that combines blood filtration, chemical mixing, and capture of antibodies into one rapid process. Cornell and VitaScan will together develop a medium-scale manufacturing and packaging process to optimize the procedure and create reliable tests for validation studies. VitaScan will pursue the manufacturing strategy in preparation for commercialization, and plans to create 10 new jobs in the next two years. (Southern Tier)

Rochester Institute of Technology – $75,000

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is working with OptiPro Systems on a project to develop an innovative ultrafast-laser-based polishing system and process for optical manufacturing to eliminate polishing waste, long lead-time, and high-cost factors. The laboratory version laser polishing system will be developed in the Laboratory for Advanced Optical Fabrication and Instrumentation by Dr. Jie Qiao and her team at RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science with the award-winning research and development (R&D) engineering team led by R&D Manager Edward Fess at OptiPro Systems, a leading manufacturer in Rochester specializing in manufacturing equipment for the fabrication of high-precision optics. (Finger Lakes)

Rochester Institute of Technology (AMPrint Center) – $36,000

Rochester Institute of Technology’s Additive Manufacturing and Multifunctional Printing (AMPrint) Center is working with Sensor Films on a project to define the operating conditions for high throughput additive manufacturing equipment capable of rapidly printing electrically conductive patterns on plastic substrates. The AMPrint Center will purchase an inkjet head assembly to be integrated with currently installed printing equipment to execute the project, adding long term manufacturing prototyping capability to the Center. Sensor Films’ ability to apply the experimental results to a suite of new manufacturing equipment will result in commercially implemented products to be built and sold in 2017 and beyond, and will create eight new high technology jobs in the local economy. (Finger Lakes)

The next open application period will begin on Friday, March 3rd and close on Friday, March 31st. The application is available at https://fuzehub.com/manufacturing-innovation-fund.

For more information about the Jeff Lawrence Manufacturing Innovation Fund, https://fuzehub.com/manufacturing-innovation-fund/ or contact FuzeHub Industry Engagement Manager Amber Mooney at amber@fuzehub.com.  

About Jeff Lawrence

During his more than 20 years at the Center for Economic Growth, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) affiliate in the Capital Region where he served as executive vice president, and MEP Center Director, Jeff Lawrence directed programs of direct assistance to manufacturers and technology companies to increase their competitiveness. He is remembered for being an invaluable and generous mentor to many in the area’s business community and a tireless advocate for manufacturing innovation throughout New York.

About FuzeHub

FuzeHub is a not-for-profit organization that connects New York’s small and mid-sized manufacturing companies to the resources, programs and expertise they need for technology commercialization, innovation, and business growth. Through our custom assessment, matching, and referral platform, we help companies navigate New York’s robust network of industry experts at Manufacturing Extension Partners centers, universities, economic development organizations, and other providers. FuzeHub is the statewide New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (MEP) center, supported by Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology & Innovation.

For more information on FuzeHub, visit www.fuzehub.com.

About Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR)

Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) mission is to advance technology innovation and commercialization in New York State. NYSTAR’s programs are designed to enable new and existing businesses to become more competitive through the use of innovative technologies, and emphasize the importance of working with industry to leverage the state’s technology strengths. Through funded programs that support world-class technology research at colleges and universities, NYSTAR works to promote a robust network of industry-university partnerships throughout the state. It administers the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which provides direct technology assistance to small and medium size manufacturers.

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Original Source: FuzeHub