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Electronic Imaging & Signal Processing

Multidimensional man

SPIE Fellow Bahram Javidi explores the potential 3-D has for applications ranging from defense to 3-D TV.

From oemagazine April 2003
31 April 2003, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.5200304.0007

Bahram Javidi

I got interested in optics because it's the combination of so many interesting disciplines," says Bahram Javidi. The same could be the said of the man. His research interests range from image recognition to 3-D TV and video, from applications of optics in encryption to optoelectronic systems for radar systems. And just like the difference between 2-D and 3-D, Javidi's work has deepened and broadened our understanding of many of those disciplines, bringing a layer of understanding that might never have been revealed without his involvement in the field.

Javidi further explains his fascination with optics. "It has mathematics, physics, statistics, and then into that you bring electrical engineering for more systems applications and so on. It's also an enabling technology; you can apply it to communications, information processing, and security systems, for example. And in terms of research, there is more ground to be broken."

engineering education

Javidi received his BS in electrical engineering from George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) in 1980 and his MS and PhD from The Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA) in 1982 and 1986 respectively. He began teaching at the University of Connecticut (UConn; Storrs, CT) in 1988 as an assistant professor in the department of electrical and systems engineering and is now a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering there.

Over the years he has supervised 50 MS and PhD students, post-doctoral students, and visiting professors at UConn. At one time, he was a visiting professor/scientist himself. During the summer of 1994 while on sabbatical, he was a visiting scientist at Thomson-CSF Research Labs in Orsay, France, and during the fall he was a visiting scientist at the Hanscom Air Force Base (Bedford, MA) while at the same time a visiting professor in the department of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA).

Javidi enjoys the role he plays at UConn. "You have more freedom at a university. I think that's the greatest thing so far about academia," he says. "The ability to choose our own research direction is unique and very satisfying. I enjoy doing work that I think is critical, new, or novel. You can create new applications, new fields, new areas in an academic environment."

research and rescue

During his time at UConn, he has worked on an array of applications involving optics including digital image processing and recognition, optical implementation of information systems, neural networks, ultrafast signal processing, secure information systems, optical data storage, 3-D image processing, and 3-D TV/display.

"We are now focusing on 3-D imaging, 3-D visualization, 3-D sensing, and 3-D information processing in real time," explains Javidi. "A 3-D object can be sensed, encoded, stored in optical or digital format, transmitted, and reconstructed later on. That's the recent focus of our work, and it uses many different technologies. It uses optics, optoelectronics, signal processing, compression, coding, and statistical algorithms. So it is an interesting combination."

Javidi has been collaborating on work with optics for information security and 3-D image recognition, including 3-D encryption for secure ultrafast data communication and for verification and anti-counterfeiting. "3-D has so much more information than 2-D," he says. "2-D provides the grayscale information in a plane, but you lose all the depth information. 3-D preserves all of that. So when you look at a scene, you get the full 3-D information. It's much more effective for recognition and display."

Now with a focus on defense applications, these same properties of 3-D image recognition are becoming even more vital. For instance, the unique abilities of 3-D for image recognition could help avoid friendly fire accidents. "If you look at 2-D pictures of F-16s and MiG-23s scaled down to a few pixels, they look awfully similar. But in 3-D you'll get a very different story," Javidi explains. "There's a fundamental limit of how much gain you can get out of processing a 2-D image. You obtain more information and you can do better processing with 3-D."

Bahram Javidi with his daughter Vida.

high society

Javidi is not only a Fellow of SPIE but he is also a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and of the Optical Society of America (OSA). He has chaired or co-chaired many conferences for all three societies including more than a dozen SPIE conferences. Most notably, he co-chaired all six "Algorithms and Systems for Optical Information Processing" conferences with SPIE Fellow Demetri Psaltis and was a symposium co-chair for the "Optics and Photonics in Homeland Security" workshop held in December 2002.

He has edited several books, as well. These include Image Recognition: Algorithms, Systems, and Applications published in 2002 by Marcel-Dekker, Three-Dimensional Television, Video, and Display Technologies published in 2002 by Springer-Verlag, and Smart Imaging Systems published in 2001 by SPIE Press.