From The Editor | April 11, 2023

Defense + Commercial Sensing: Exploring The Latest Innovations In Imaging, Sensing, And Photonic Technologies

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By John Oncea, Editor

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Over the past 68 years, SPIE has been connecting, engaging, and serving its global constituency of more than 258,000 people from 184 countries. Led by a dedicated team of volunteers — including a Board of Directors, multiple committees, conference chairs, and journal editors — SPIE’s mission is to partner with researchers, educators, and industry to advance light-based research and technologies for the betterment of the human condition.

A big part of meeting that mission is accomplished by hosting conferences and exhibitions and, at the end of the month, SPIE will be hosting a big one: The Defense + Commercial Sensing conference and exhibition.

SPIE bills this event as an opportunity to enjoy real conversations, hear the latest breakthroughs, and make important connections in person. Attendees will learn about cutting-edge research in sensors, infrared, laser systems, spectral imaging, radar, lidar, autonomous systems, and other findings from the community. And they’ll do it all from April 30 through May 4 in Orlando, a hotbed of photonics.

Orlando and much of the rest of the Southeast United States “is a hub of defense technology with most major defense contractors from the U.S. and abroad having significant operations in Florida,” notes Florida houses one of the biggest defense and homeland security industries in the U.S., with over 17,900 companies and nearly 194,000 employees. Boasting a wide array of specializations including defense aviation, biometrics, and cybersecurity, Florida's expertise in high-tech employment ranks fourth in the U.S.

The state is home to a whopping 20 major military installations and three unified combatant commands, making it central to U.S. defense operations. Additionally, Florida's focus on smart sensor technology is gaining traction, bolstering the state's reputation for technological innovation.

Florida's aviation and aerospace industry is thriving with an extensive supply chain and exceptional connectivity, making it the key pathway to the space industry worldwide. The state is positioned as the primary air traffic hub of the Americas, a prominent destination for flight training, and the leading location for aircraft and aircraft component manufacturing, as well as engineering, robotics, and surveillance technologies. Some of the top names in the aviation and aerospace industry, such as Boeing, Embraer, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, and OneWeb Satellites, have made an indelible mark in Florida.

The state is also home to Kennedy Space Center, which has undertaken a critical role in several manned space missions conducted by NASA over the years. The combination of cutting-edge technology and exceptional manpower that Florida offers, is one of the primary reasons why it has become a hub of excellence for the aviation and aerospace industry.

Conferences, Special Events, And More

But enough about Florida, let’s take a look at what Defense + Commercial Sensing is offering in the way of events, starting with the four conference tracks. These are:

  • Materials And Devices: Papers that showcase IR materials, image sensors, photon counting, energy harvesting, and quantum technologies. The applications include wearables, cybersecurity, information processing, energy storage, and drones.
  • Imaging And Analytics: Papers on spectral imaging, computational image processing, metrology, and 3D imaging. Papers include applications in security and defense, climate monitoring, big data, deep learning, machine vision, target detection, and tracking.
  • Advanced Sensing And Imaging: Research on IR and thermal imaging, fiber optic sensors, lidar, radar, laser radar, x-ray detection and imaging, advanced optics for imaging, and image processing using AI/ML. Applications include novel defense and security systems for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, infrastructure monitoring, energy, autonomous vehicles, and remote sensing.
  • Next-Generation Sensor Systems And Applications: Papers that highlight cutting-edge research focused on emerging technologies for specific applications such as autonomous systems, CBRNE, agriculture and food safety, CPS/IoT, and more.

Several special events are also planned for Defense + Commercial Sensing, including five Plenary sessions:

  • Symposium Plenary: Whitney Mason will discuss new initiatives and trends at DARPA and Doug Maughan introduce NSF’s directorate for technology, innovation, and partnerships.
  • Tuesday Track Plenary: Morning plenaries from Alan Wang on diatom photonic crystal biosensing/imaging and Wade Pulliam on cognitive sensing for responsible autonomous decision making.
  • Wednesday Track Plenary: Morning plenaries by Eric Fossum as he traces the path of CMOS image sensors past to future followed by Jeyhan Kartaltepe on pushing the edge of the cosmic frontier with JWST.
  • Special All-Symposium Keynote and Panel on Electronics Industrial Base Investments and Modernization: Presentations from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition & Sustainment. Learn about strategies and resources designated to expanding domestic capability and capacity for electronics.
  • Special All-Symposium Plenary on Future Directions in Critical Technologies: Presentations from officials of the DoD’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. Hear and learn about critical technology directions that impact the defense and security community.

There are also seven technical events scheduled, as well as 10 networking and community events and 15 industry events. Twenty-seven courses are on the schedule, too. The four featured courses are:

  • Testing and Evaluation of E-O Imaging Systems: In this intermediate course, instructor Gerald Holst will instruct on the quantitative and qualitative metrics that are used to characterize imaging system performance. The course is for those involved with all phases of imaging system characterization ranging from satisfying customer requirements to ensure that specifications are unambiguous and testable.
  • Deep Learning Architectures for Defense and Security: In this introductory course, instructor Nasser Nasrabadi will introduce the well-known deep learning architectures and their applications in defense and security for object detection, identification, verification, action recognition, scene understanding, and biometrics using a single modality or multimodality sensor information.
  • Introduction to Infrared Technology, Phenomenology, Markets, and Applications: In this introductory course, instructor John Miller will instruct on a basic top-level understanding of the field, and the state of the art including terminology, history, phenomenology, radiometry, markets, and applications, as well as up-to-date examples.  Anyone who wants to answer questions such as, "Is MWIR or LWIR better?”, “What’s the difference between a Camera Core and an IDCA?” and “What’s the difference between HgCdTe, SLS, and QDOTS” will benefit from this course.
  • An Introduction to Precision Stabilized Pointing and Tracking Systems: In this intermediate course, instructor Jim Hilkert provides practical instruction on the design, analysis, integration, and evaluation processes associated with the development of precision stabilization, pointing, and tracking systems. Major topics include stabilized platform technology, electro-mechanical system configuration and analysis, and typical pointing and tracking system architectures.

The Exhibition

The event’s exhibition – which runs from May 2 through May 4, will help connect researchers, scientists, engineers, and buyers with potential suppliers while educating the community about new technical possibilities. Featured technologies on display run the gamut:

  • Cameras and imaging systems
  • Computing and data processing hardware
  • Detectors and sensors
  • Displays
  • Electrical and signal analysis equipment
  • Electronic and digital imaging equipment
  • Electronic components
  • Fiber optics and accessories
  • Laser components, accessories, and laser systems
  • Lasers and systems
  • LEDs, OLEDs, and non-laser light sources
  • Materials, abrasives, and chemicals
  • Nanotechnology products
  • Optical coatings and thin films
  • Optical components — lenses, filters, mirrors, misc.
  • Optomechanical components and devices
  • Positioning equipment
  • Software
  • Spectroscopy devices and equipment
  • Test and measurement equipment

See You There?

Don't miss Defense + Commercial Sensing, the leading event where researchers and engineers share emerging technology in sensors, infrared technology, laser systems, spectral imaging, radar, lidar, AI/machine learning, and more. Learn from experts working on materials, components, systems, and analytics for defense, security, and commercial applications – all while enjoying beautiful Orlando!