Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

A Machine's Eye View of Poultry and Produce

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

A Machine's Eye View of Poultry and Produce

Article excerpt

At the Instrumentation and Sensing Laboratory (ILS) of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Beltsville, Maryland, a team of scientists is designing portable inspection devices. Led by YudRen Chen, the team includes biophysicist Moon Kim, agricultural engineer Kuanglin Chao, and visiting scientists from around the globe. Some of the prototype gadgets they are developing sound like something dreamed up by James Bond's gadget man:

* a hardhat supports a small camera and a flashlight that gives off specially filtered light;

* a pair of safety glasses, worn with the hat, doubles as a wearable miniature computer monitor displaying data from a miniature computer on the inspector's belt (the data tell the inspector whether there is any fecal matter on processing equipment);

* the lenses of an ordinary-looking pair of binoculars filter special bands of light to check for disease, defects, or fecal matter on meat, produce, or equipment; and

* a handheld device shines filtered light for a sanitation check of a processing plant.

The device has a camera that sends images to another eyewear-mount-ed computer display. White specks on the image reveal fecal matter.

Chen, Chao, and visiting scientist Chun-Chieh Yang have also finished work on a high-speed online imaging system for chicken inspection. They are turning over a prototype to industry as part of a cooperative research and development agreement with Stork-Gamco of Gainesville, Georgia, a major manufacturer of chicken-processing equipment. Chen and Kim and biomedical engineer Alan Lefcourt are working on a similar system for inspecting fruits and vegetables.

Because all these systems use optically filtered light and optoelectronics to "see," they are called "machine vision" or "optical-sensing" systems. …

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