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Proceedings Paper

Beyond the resolution limit: subpixel resolution in animals and now in silicon
Author(s): M. J. Wilcox
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Paper Abstract

Automatic acquisition of aerial threats at thousands of kilometers distance requires high sensitivity to small differences in contrast and high optical quality for subpixel resolution, since targets occupy much less surface area than a single pixel. Targets travel at high speed and break up in the re-entry phase. Target/decoy discrimination at the earliest possible time is imperative. Real time performance requires a multifaceted approach with hyperspectral imaging and analog processing allowing feature extraction in real time. Hyperacuity Systems has developed a prototype chip capable of nonlinear increase in resolution or subpixel resolution far beyond either pixel size or spacing. Performance increase is due to a biomimetic implementation of animal retinas. Photosensitivity is not homogeneous across the sensor surface, allowing pixel parsing. It is remarkably simple to provide this profile to detectors and we showed at least three ways to do so. Individual photoreceptors have a Gaussian sensitivity profile and this nonlinear profile can be exploited to extract high-resolution. Adaptive, analog circuitry provides contrast enhancement, dynamic range setting with offset and gain control. Pixels are processed in parallel within modular elements called cartridges like photo-receptor inputs in fly eyes. These modular elements are connected by a novel function for a cell matrix known as L4. The system is exquisitely sensitive to small target motion and operates with a robust signal under degraded viewing conditions, allowing detection of targets smaller than a single pixel or at greater distance. Therefore, not only is instantaneous feature extraction possible but also subpixel resolution. Analog circuitry increases processing speed with more accurate motion specification for target tracking and identification.

Paper Details

Date Published: 25 September 2007
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 6699, Signal and Data Processing of Small Targets 2007, 669902 (25 September 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.734879
Show Author Affiliations
M. J. Wilcox, Hyperacuity Systems (United States)
U.S. Air Force Academy (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6699:
Signal and Data Processing of Small Targets 2007
Oliver E. Drummond; Richard D. Teichgraeber, Editor(s)

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