Print PageEmail Page

SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 news and photos

A great week in Anaheim! Browse event highlights and sample talks below.

Playlist of video presentations

Welcome reception photo gallery

Fellows luncheon photo gallery

Exhibition photo gallery

Poster sessions photo gallery


SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017

Nearly 4,600 participants attended the very successful SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing
2017, in the long-running event’s first showing on the West Coast. Browse below to relive
some highlights from the week’s event. See you next year: 15-19 April in Orlando, Florida!
(Joey Cobbs Photography)


Sunday 9 April


SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017

A group from Taiwan's National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology
captures the moment in the registration hall Sunday morning.


Martin Gerken, Airbus Defence and Space, in Infrared Technology and Applications at SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017

Among first-day speakers, Martin Gerken of Airbus Defence and Space gave a talk
Sunday afternoon on a military reconnaissance platform for the spectral range from the
visible to the MWIR (10177-11) in the conference on Infrared Technology and Applications.

SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing course program Lawrence Klein, course program at SPIE Defense + Security 2017

More than 30 full- and half-day courses this week offer attendees the opportunity to expand knowledge and build new skills in areas such as Information Systems and Networks, Imagery and Pattern Analysis, Laser Sensors and Systems, and other topics. At right above, Lawrence Klein teaches a course Sunday on Multisensor Data Fusion for Object Detection, Classification, and Identification.


Monday 10 April


Wearable health-centered sensors

Ali Javey, University of California, Berkeley

Ali Javey

Wearable sensor technologies can play a significant role in personalized medicine by continuously monitoring an individual’s state of health. Ali Javey of University of California, Berkeley, gave a presentation Monday morning on his lab’s work with wearable health-monitoring sensors, in particular sweat sensors (10194-27). Javey noted that human sweat is an excellent candidate for non-invasive monitoring as it contains physiologically rich information. However, sweat is complex and it is necessary to measure multiple targets to extract meaningful information about a subject’s state of health.

“In the lab we try to figure out new ways of processing, manipulating, modulating materials to enable new device applications,” Javey said. Through this method, Javey’s group has combined innovative materials, sensor technology and integrated circuits to develop a fully-integrated perspiration analysis system that can simultaneously measure sweat metabolites, electrolytes, and heavy metals, as well as skin temperature to calibrate the sensors' response.

Prototype sweat sensors are printed on thin plastics and are embedded in headbands or wristbands to monitor concentration levels of these metabolic markers in real-time.

This work bridges the technological gap in wearable biosensors by merging plastic-based sensors that interface with the skin, and silicon integrated circuits consolidated on a flexible circuit board for complex signal processing. The wearable system can be used to measure the detailed sweat profile of a person engaged in prolonged physical activities, and infer a real-time assessment of that person’s physiological state.


Robotics for the hospital

Can robots effectively assist in medical care? Sumit Das of the University of Louisville took up this question in his presentation (10216-13) on Monday morning, in a session on Next-Generation Robotic Sensing/Motion in the Smart Biomedical and Physiological Sensor Technology conference.

While most human environments would be far too random for automation, the well-prescribed practices in hospital environments makes them far more predictable and appropriate for introducing robots into patient care.

Das demonstrated the software and hardware behind their nurse-assistant "robot sitters," concluding that even without training, nurses can effectively utilize the interface and robot to perform useful tasks. They plan on implementing the framework in an actual hospital environment next to collect data in a real-world scenario.


Sensors join data in markets for silicon photonics

Attila Mekis, Luxtera

Attila Mekis

Silicon photonics pioneer Luxtera has enjoyed success but “is not sitting on our laurels,” said Attila Mekis, Senior Director of Engineering, in a talk at the SPIE Fellows luncheon Monday afternoon.

Describing Luxtera’s path from research to manufacturing, Mekis detailed technology advances that have led to current utilization of single-mode, vertical optical coupling, hybrid electric/optical integration, and hybrid laser light source technology. One enabling factor has been a flattened data flow, eliminating hierarchical switching.

Luxtera completed an early project with DARPA in 2006, and another with Molex in 2009. The company’s first commercial transceiver for Web 2.0 data centers was produced in 2015.

Nourished by considerable venture capital since it was founded in 2001, Luxtera has been in continuous manufacturing since 2008 and recently began developing processes with TSMC.

An “explosion” in data center cloud infrastructure demand is a major market driver, surpassing telecom and enterprise markets, Mekis said. In fact, 75% of the data traffic is inside the data center itself, he noted. Other emerging markets are in motion sensors and bio-sensing.

SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 Fellows Luncheon

Fellows of the Society enjoying a luncheon Monday afternoon (above) also welcomed four
new Fellows, among a total of 71 named this year: Fauzia Ahmad (Temple University),
Mark Itzler (Princeton Lightwave), Shouleh Nikzad (Jet Propulsion Lab),
and John Sanders-Reed (The Boeing Company). See more photos in our gallery.


Oak Ridge scientist honored with Lehrfeld award

Tariq Manzur and Panos Datkos

Tariq Manzur (left) and Panos Datkos

Panos Datkos, distinguished scientist and group leader at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was presented with the 2017 Eric A. Lehrfeld Award by session chair Tariq Manzur on behalf of the Defense, Homeland Security, and Law Enforcement program track.

The award recognizes outstanding contributions to global homeland security, commemorating the victims of the 9/11 attacks on America, reminding and stimulating us all to apply technology to better secure our homelands.

The award was presented Monday afternoon during the Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Security in the Defense, and Law Enforcement Applications Conference.


Rising Researchers in the spotlight

2017 Rising Researchers

Ten distinguished early-career scientists selected as the inaugural group of Rising Researchers were honored during welcome remarks before the plenary session on Monday afternoon. Above, nine of the 10 pause for a photo with SPIE President Glenn Boreman (far left). Honorees are:

  • Fei Tian, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Adrian Tang, University of California, Los Angeles, and NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
  • Junsuk Rho, Pohang University of Science and Technology
  • Shuo Pang, University of Central Florida
  • Daniela Moody, Descartes Labs
  • Yongmin Liu, Northeastern University
  • Daniel LeMaster, Air Force Research Lab
  • John Hennessy,, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
  • Matt Graham,, Oregon State University
  • Nathan Cahill, Rochester Institute of Technology

Read more about the honorees and their work.


Plenary talks: 'Systems of Systems', and VR in space

SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 plenary session

A capacity crowd heard two intriguing talks at Monday afternoon's plenary session.

A capacity crowd heard two intriguing talks at Monday afternoon's plenary session. Tom Burns of DARPA's Strategic Technology Office (below left) opened with a discussion of the U.S. approach to "mastering and imposing the complexity of systems of systems." Parker Abercrombie of the Jet Propulsion Lab (below right) took the audience on a virtual tour of Mars, with a demonstration of virtual reality applications for "augmenting exploration." Read more in the article.

Tom Burns, DARPA STO Parker Abercrombie, JPL


Welcome: delicious food, delightful music, excellent company

SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 welcome reception

Attendees enjoyed a welcome reception Monday evening under a full moon on
the Grand Plaza outside the Convention Center. Anaheim's excellent food trucks
provided fine dining and a steel drum band infused a relaxed vibe, as
colleagues old and new enjoyed the evening.See more photos in our gallery.


Tuesday 11 April


Honoring Senior Members

SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 Senior Member Breakfast

Senior Members of the society were honored at a breakfast Tuesday morning,
including a thank-you for their contributions from SPIE President Glenn Boreman.


Printing 3D parts in space

Imagine a world in which you print instead of machine your parts. This is what Brandon Rudisel of North Dakota State University asked his audience to consider Tuesday morning at the Additive Manufacturing for Space Access session, in the conference on Sensors and Systems for Space Applications.

Rudisel presented the work of NDSU colleague Jacob Reimers in fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printing in space (10196-17), as a practical solution for reducing the mass and volume required for bringing materials into orbit.

Materials could be launched in raw form and transformed into requisite parts and structures as needed. This would allow structures to be designed to support only microgravity and allow sensing systems to be configured (and reconfigured) based on needs identified during a mission.

Metallic glass — an amorphous metal also known as glassy metal that can be more durable than some of its component parts — was identified as a workable material.

“In FFF 3D printing,” Rudisel explained, “the element needs to hit a ‘Goldilocks zone’ of not too hot or cold.” This point, called the “glass transition temperature,” causes the filament to exhibit pseudo-solid properties.

Reimers found that an alloy of aluminum, nickel, and yttrium could be created by melting the three elements together and cooling them at a specific rate. This metallic glass can then be made into a pellet, to prepare it for its transformation into a filament used by a printer.

This process could have repercussions in manufacturing, machining, and space exploration.


Busy opening day in the Expo

SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 Expo

SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing Expo
SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 Expo

SPIE Career Center Job Fair

Tuesday morning brought the opening of the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 Expo, with approximately 370 exhibiting companies, an expanded industry program, and the event's largest job fair to date. Exhibitors reported being particularly pleased with the quality of traffic — heavy on potential buyers checking out the products and systems on display.

Among the comments, “We have had quite a few visitors to our booth expressing real interest in our products," said ATA Corporation Configuration Control Manager Sheila Green. "These are genuine inquiries, not just people stopping by to pick up give-away items.” See more photos in our gallery.


Disruptive technologies from the next generation

Student panel in Disruptive Technologies in Sensors

Panelists, from left, Rushui Fang, John Foley, Kyler Harrington, and Pedram Joheri.

A panel presentation Tuesday morning in the conference on Disruptive Technologies in Sensors and Sensor Systems (10206) provided opportunity both to showcase the work of student researchers and to provide insights into intriguing technologies with applications on both near and far horizons.

Topics included in-vivo wireless nanosensor networks (Pedram Johari, University at Buffalo), blockchain for cybersecurity (Kyler Harrington, University at Buffalo), artificial intelligence for autonomy (John Foley, University at Buffalo), and quantum key devices for cryptography (Rushui Fang, Binghampton University).

Session chair Raju Namburu (U.S. Army Research Lab) moderated the panel. Conference chairs are Russell Hall (Northrup Grumman Corp.), Misty Blowers (ICF), and Jonathan Williams (U.S. Air Force Space Command).

Co-conference organizers ICF provided sponsorships. Selection was competitive, with submissions judged by a panel of experts from the Army Research Lab, Air Force Research Lab, NSA, CIA, and Northrop Grumman.

“This was a fantastic opportunity for these students to build their resumes and to attend a globally recognized conference providing both networking and career opportunities,” Blowers said.


Time with the experts

Student lunch with experts, SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing Student lunch with experts, SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing

SPIE Student Services hosted a luncheon Tuesday afternoon to enable students and industry experts to socialize and network over a casual meal.


‘Clarity of vision' key factor for effective team leadership

Leadership panel, SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017

From left, Carol Marinello, Kathleen Boyle, Art Lofton, Teresa Pace, Suzanne Daniels.

A lively discussion on Tuesday afternoon addressed the topic of leadership in evolving times and how women can offer a unique perspective, with panelists Carol Marinello of CJMarinello and Associates, Teresa Pace of ICAMR, Kathleen Boyle of Verify, Suzanne Daniels of L3 Sensor Systems, and Art Lofton of Northrop Grumman.

Daniels said prioritization is a key to dealing with pressure: "Understand your objective and what you want to accomplish so when you are overwhelmed you can focus on what is really needed to accomplish your goal."

To make a team as effective as possible, it's important to align the team at the start so that everyone knows the strategic objectives and their roles and responsibilities, said Daniels. Having this "clarity of vision," as Boyle put it, is an important element of leading a successful team.

Pace looks at people's capabilities and skills, regardless of gender, and tries to put them in roles where they'll succeed.

To create an atmosphere of inclusion, Lofton tries to pull out quieter people to make sure their voices are heard; sometimes they have the best ideas because they are sitting back and listening.

All the panelists agreed that seeking out mentoring and job-shadowing opportunities are good ways to develop leadership skills. To achieve a work/life balance as a leader, Boyle said, it's important to "have a sense of purpose; under times of adversity, this gives you the ability to overcome obstacles."


Focus cues for VR/AR head-mounted displays

Hong Hua, SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017

Hong Hua

On Tuesday afternoon, Hong Hua of the College of Optical Sciences, University of Arizona, spoke to a packed room in the conference on Three-Dimensional Imaging, Visualization, and Display about the different methods to enable focus cues in head-mounted displays (HMDs) for virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR).

This is an ongoing issue affecting visual discomfort in HMDs — the lack of the ability to render proper visual cues that will stimulate the eye's natural accommodation responses.

In her talk (10219-19), Hua reviewed five methods: Maxwellian view displays, vari-focal displays, and three types of head-mounted light field displays (depth-fused multi-focal plane AR displays, integral imaging 3D AR displays, and multi-layer computational light field displays).

Summarizing the pros and cons of each in for maximizing optical performance, manufacturability, and human comfort, she explained that while each has its benefits, none of the five offer an ideal solution. She declared that many more human factor studies are needed to better understand the role of focus cues in VR/AR systems and make further progress.


Fumio Okano Best Paper Award

Fumio Okano Award 2017

Conference Chair Bahram Javidi (University of Connecticut), right, presented the Fumio Okano Best Paper Award on Tuesday afternoon to three winners at the Three-Dimensional Imaging, Visualization, and Display conference.

  • Yi-Pai Huang (National Chiao Tung University), left, for “Liquid crystal lens array for 3D light field microscopy” (9867-330); co-authors Po-Yuan Hsieh, Chao-Yu Chu, and Yun Hsuan (National Chiao Tung University)
  • Sumio Yano (Shimane University), second from left, for “Requirement for measurement of accommodation response based image blur due to the integral photography” (9867-34); co-author Min-Chul Park (Korea Institute of Science and Technology)
  • Marina Alterman (Northwestern University), second from right, for “3D in natural random refractive distortions” (9867-10); co-author is Yoav Schechner (Technion-Israel Institute of Technology).

The award is sponsored by NHK-ES.


Artificial intelligence for more accurate weather forecasting

Rick Thielke of Ayata described in a talk Tuesday afternoon (10218-22) an artificial intelligence (AI) forecasting system, in which both structured and unstructured data are used to help clients come to solutions for predictions in a number of fields.

In the field of weather prediction, Ayata is able to use this hybrid data (numbers, videos, and images) to improve the accuracy of short- and medium-term weather forecasts.

Like Google's quest to succeed at self-driving cars, Theilke said, weather prediction is also a computer science problem at its core. He showed how their model of artificial neural networks combined with boosted decision regressions was able to best Microsoft's predictions of wind speeds in each state.

He closed by explaining how better weather forecasts would be invaluable across numerous sectors — assisting in electricity forecasting, grid optimization, insurance evaluation, and airline decision making.


Wednesday 12 April


Strong day for leads, industry program in the Expo

SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 Expo

Wednesday was another strong day for exhibitors in the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 Expo, both for leads at the booths as well as in the comprehensive industry program.

"The show has been very good for us," said Ed McIntyre, director of sales and business development at Princeton Lilghtwave. "We have had lots of good quality leads." See more photos in our gallery.


LiDAR: the future is here, says Quanergy head

Louay Eldada, SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 Expo

Louay Eldada, Quanergy
(Joey Cobbs Photography)

An overflow standing-room-only audience crowded around the industry stage in the Expo hall Wednesday afternoon to hear Louay Eldada, CEO and co-founder of Quanergy, detail how solid-state LiDAR technology will revolutionize autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous cars currently on the market, for example, rely on radar and video for navigation.

LiDAR vastly increases capabilities such as range, field of view, shape identification, and long-range object recognition, Eldada said.

With solid-state technology, Quanergy has been able to miniaturize the device, small enough within a car’s front grill. This second-generation device is the size of two decks of cards, with a version with smaller dimensions on the Quanergy roadmap.

Quanergy already is working with several partners and expects to have more than 130 employees in nine countries by the end of the year. Building on several rounds of venture capital funding, the next funding step is IPO, Eldada said.

Read more about the latest developments in LiDAR for autonomous vehicles in the article.


Complex cargo x-ray imagery

Thomas Rogers, University College London

Thomas Rogers

Approaches to automated security image analysis have focused on the detection of particular classes of threat. This mode of inspection is becoming less effective as concealment techniques are becoming more refined.

In a new approach, Thomas Rogers of the Computational Security Science Group at University College London presented work Wednesday afternoon on representation learning for anomaly detection in complex x-ray cargo imagery (10187-13).

Rogers and his colleagues are developing algorithms for mechanical systems for the automated discovery of anomalies, for systems that recognize when something doesn't belong in a certain grouping.

Detection systems may "see" a weapon in a suitcase and recognize it as something that doesn't belong. But that same system wouldn't detect a human in a suitcase as odd, because it hasn't "learned" that a person wouldn't belong in that grouping.

The framework consists of two main components — automated feature-learning and detection of anomalies relative to those features.

With the revolution in deep learning, computers are starting to outperform human operators.
"The goal of our group is to push deep learning forward in this domain and eventually have a scenario where humans can be freed up for tasks such as physical inspection and intelligence gathering," said Rogers.

While machines have advantages including cost and scalability, and can't be bribed, Rogers said, humans are still better at using intuition when recognizing possible threats.


Thursday 13 April


Detection of chemicals in subsurface layers

Sagar Dhakal, SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing

Sagar Dhakal

Sagar Dhakal, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Thursday morning reported new results regarding methods to detect and identify chemical components of pharmaceuticals or food within capsules or plastic containers (10217-5).

Dhakal described using spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (SORS) for subsurface detection to ensure quality and safety of contents by sending laser light through plastic containers or gelatin capsules which is then detected by a spectrometer. This work used a 785-nm point-scan Raman spectroscopy system.

With SORS, users can also examine through multiple layers of pharmaceuticals, as layering is sometimes used to manufacture medicines.

However, the technique is also useful to find and characterize different chemicals or find contaminants mixed within food or medicine, without opening the package.

SORS can examine individual components within up to eight layers. For identification of individual components in each sample self-modeling mixture analysis (SMA) methods were used to decompose the mixed spectral information in the SORS data and extract pure component spectra of capsule and individual components. Corresponding components for each retrieved pure component spectrum are identified in this technique using spectral information divergence.

In addition to food and pharmaceutical purity, this method can also detect and identify concealed drugs or contaminants, identify materials inside coated containers, perform quality assurance of capsules and contents, analyze ingredients or contaminants within packaged food, and evaluate food safety and quality attributes within storage containers non-destructively.

The presentation was part of a session on Chemical Imaging Applications for Food Contaminants Detection in the conference on Sensing for Agriculture and Food Quality and Safety, part of a comprehensive program at SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing on optical sensing for food quality and safety.


Thermosense best paper awards

Thermosense 2017 Best Student Paper Award

From left, Elliott Rittenberg,
Rosa De Finis, Paolo Bison
Thermosense 2017 Best Overall Paper Award

From left, Danielle St. Onge,
Jean Dumoulin, Douglas Burleigh

The Thermosense: Thermal Infrared Applications award for best student paper, sponsored by IRCameras, was presented Thursday morning to Rosa De Finis (Politecnico di Bari) for "Energetic approach based on IRT to assess plastic behaviour in CT specimens" (10214-26). Co-authors are Davide Palumbo, Francesco Ancona, and Umberto Galietti (Politecnico di Bari). The award was presented by sponsor IRCameras' Elliott Rittenberg and conference chair Paolo Bison (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche).

The award for best overall paper, sponsored by FLIR, was presented to Jean Dumoulin (Institut Français des Sciences et Technologies des Transports de l'amenagement et des Reseaux and INRIA) for "Infrared thermography applied to transport infrastructures monitoring: outcomes and perspectives" (10214-40). Co-author is Antoine Crinière (INRIA Rennes). The award was presented by sponsor FLIR Systems' Danielle St. Onge and conference co-chair Douglas Burleigh (La Jolla Cove Consulting).


Building engineering students into roboticists

Andrew Kosinski, SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing

Andrew Kosinski

Andrew Kosinski of U.S. Army TARDEC on Thursday afternoon discussed the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC), which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year in June (10195-35).

The IGVC is a college-level competition for building autonomous unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). The contest incorporates engineering professions including mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering. Over the past 25 years more than 500 hundred teams representing 80 universities from seven countries have participated.

The objective is to challenge students to think creatively as a team about the evolving technologies of vehicle electronic controls, sensors, computer science robotics, and system integration throughout the design, fabrication, and field-testing of autonomous intelligent mobile robots.

Collaboration is the key to success, Kosinski noted.

Students must overcome a large variety of engineering technical challenges including control theory, power requirements/distribution, cognition, machine vision, vehicle electronics, avoiding obstacles, and safety design to create a fully autonomous UGV.

Students start with an existing vehicle such as a wheelchair or riding lawn mower and outfit it with the required controls, sensors, and other equipment. Each UGV must then negotiate an outdoor course while staying within the 5-mph speed limit and avoiding obstacles.

"We want this competition to serve as a stepping stone to get engineering students interested in working in robotics-type applications, and easily transition into the field," said Kosinski.


Media coverage

Airborne sensors: challenges and opportunities, 18 April 2017

Live from SPIE Defense + Commerical Sensing: Part 2
Photonics Online, 14 April 2017

LiDAR putting optics 'back in the global spotlight', 14 April 2017

Advice from Washington: engage, from Trump to City Hall, 14 April 2017

Drones spot gas leaks from the sky
Tech Briefs, 13 April 2017

Live from SPIE Defense + Commerical Sensing: Part 1
Photonics Online, 13 April 2017

UK ‘leading’ quantum tech transition, 12 April 2017

Fiber sensors tipped for missions to Mars, 12 April 2017

America's newest weapon of war: complexity, 11 April 2017

Defense, environment, health care in focus at DCS 2017
Photonics Spectra, 4 April 2017

Fun and thrills await in Anaheim, California
Photonics Spectra, 28 March 2017


SPIE press releases and previews

Lights, camera, action at SPIE DCS
6 April 2017

New SPIE Rising Researcher awards recognize 10 distinguished early-career professionals
15 December 2016


All photos © SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, except where noted.

Contributors: Stacey Crockett, Peter Hallett, Karolyn Labes, Tim Lamkins, Amy Nelson, Karen Thomas, Bjorn Thorpe

SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing

9 – 13 April 2017
Anaheim, California, USA



Download your free Conference and Exhibition App (iPhone and Android)

Download the free
Conference and Exhibition App
for iOS or Android.



Join the conversation
on social media:


Twitter @SPIEtweets Instagram @SPIEphotonics Facebook SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics