Improvements in Machine Vision Enhance Border Surveillance

Dr. Lee quoted in AIA's Vision Online magazine Machine about enhanced Border Security
1 May 17
Dr. Lee was quoted in a feature article about using machine vision to enhance border control and security. Click Here to read the entire article.

Managing Diverse Conditions

The perennial problem with vision systems used in border surveillance applications is managing the diversity of an outdoor environment with its fluctuating lighting and weather conditions, as well as varied terrain. Despite the challenges, “there are places where you can implement controls to improve upon the intelligence of the system,” says Dr. Rex Lee, president and CEO of Pyramid Imaging (Tampa, Florida). He points to customers who monitor trains along the southern border of the U.S. for illegal passengers.

“Those trains have to go under a trellis, which can be equipped with the appropriate sensors and lighting to help inspect the trains,” Dr. Lee says.

Government agencies tasked with border security use infrared cameras to detect targets at night and in other low-light conditions, but thermal imaging has its limits, too. “Infrared cameras work really well when you can use them in high-contrast conditions,” Dr. Lee says. “But if you’re trying to pick up a human at 98.6°F on a desert floor that is 100°F, the desert is emitting radiation at nearly the same part of the spectrum. So customers rely on other parts of the spectrum such as shortwave infrared (SWIR) to try to catch the difference.”

Infrared imaging works well in monitoring motorized watercraft since the boat’s engine has a thermal signature. “What’s nice about water is that it’s relatively uniform and it’s easy to ‘wash out’ that background and see anomalies,” Dr. Lee says.

But the problem is that the oceans present a vast amount of area to cover. Says Dr. Lee, “To see all of it is a compromise between having a whole bunch of systems monitoring the water or systems that are high in the sky, in which case you have the problem of seeing something really tiny in a very large overall view.”

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