Boutique Sensors

Provided by guest blogger, Aaron Lawrence, Woolpert subject matter expert, Charleston

While commercial orthophotography has many purposes, it typically serves as an underlying base map for some sort of analysis. The best data analysis practices require base map data to be as accurate as possible, as this mapping data is critical for the understanding of location and spatial relationships. Having an accurate base map also creates an opportunity for smaller, cheaper, and in some cases unmanned sensor platforms to be tested and used to update existing information for specific geographies in a timely manner or collect information that is outside of the visible spectrum.

As the years go by, we see more research and improvements in data collection technology. These improvements typically include advances in one or more of the following categories:

    •  Speed of data collection
    •  Increased resolution or field of view (FOV)
    •  Different or increased spectral ranges
    •  Faster processing
    •  Smaller collection platforms
    •  Reduction in cost of data collections and hardware costs

As billions of dollars continue to pour into the research and development of such topics, within our lifetime we will see sensors and platforms designed to collect specific data for specific purposes. Some of these boutique or mission specific sensors are already being implemented—such as sensors designed to identify vehicles that speed or run red lights, sensors that can detect weaknesses or leaks in sewer or gas pipelines, sensors designed to see in the darkness of deep water to map the ocean floor autonomously and even chemical sniffers designed to measure and map specific particulates in the air.

The future is open to all types of these boutique sensors, and in many cases it is a simple question that is a driving force behind a new prototype. Perhaps in the future our cell phones will have personal barometers that contribute to more accurate national weather forecasting, or maybe we will have sensors that help prevent national tragedies by monitoring, detecting and predicting criminal behavior.

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