Critical Hyperspectral Imaging Applications Across Industries

18 Aug 2022

Over the past decade, hyperspectral imaging applications have become more and more widespread across industries such as the military, agriculture, healthcare, and automotive. 

The capacity to properly describe an object's color, whether it be a camouflaged car, a bruise on a person's arm or fruit, or a large area of vegetation, enables people to make educated decisions that were previously unimaginable.

Today, with the help of advanced technologies such as hyperspectral imaging, work is being done in real-time on satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, and portable handheld devices instead of the bulky, expensive, and fragile laboratory spectrometers that were once necessary.

How Does Hyperspectral Technology Work? 

Hyperspectral imaging involves capturing and processing images at many wavelengths. While multispectral imaging may evaluate the process using three or four colors (red, green, blue, and near-infrared), hyperspectral imaging divides the image into tens or hundreds of hues. 

Hyperspectral photos use spectroscopy technology to gather extra spectral information for each pixel in the scene image, which is used to identify materials based on the behavior of things that reflect light.

With the help of this technology, several other businesses have made strides that go beyond the red, green, and blue (RGB) color spectrum. In contrast to radiography, hyperspectral imaging is a non-contact, non-destructive method that can be utilized without endangering the item being studied. 

For instance, for agricultural purposes, drones equipped with hyperspectral cameras may identify weeds, soil erosion issues, plant illnesses and estimate crop yields. 

In agriculture, hyperspectral imaging has been utilized for a variety of tasks, such as measuring crop biochemical and biophysical parameters to comprehend vegetation physiological status and anticipate yield, assessing crop nutritional status, keeping track of crop disease, and analyzing soil qualities.

Owing to the wide-ranging uses of hyperspectral imaging technology, rising military demand, and investment, increased government emphasis on research and development activities, rising prevalence of various chronic diseases, aging population, rising geriatric population, and growing concerns about the safety of the world's food supply, the hyperspectral imaging market is predicted to expand substantially.

According to the BIS Research analysis, the global hyperspectral imaging market was estimated to be at $791.2 million in 2021, which is expected to grow with a CAGR of 13.17% and reach $1,640.3 million by 2027.

Lesser-Known Applications of Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Across Industries

Hyperspectral imaging technology is now enabling functions that were not possible earlier. A few lesser-known uses of hyperspectral remote sensing are as discussed:  

1.    Hyperspectral imaging application for screening of cancer cells: Hyperspectral imaging technology is relatively new and is gaining popularity because of how non-invasive it is at detecting cancer. The use of hyperspectral imaging cameras for cancer detection aids in the discovery of tumors and helps to provide information about the cells surrounding the tumor, which is essential for treating the condition. 

The electromagnetic spectral signals are measured by the hyperspectral cameras, which then produce an image that can be examined. A healthcare professional can use hyperspectral technology to take a full body image of a patient and then receive a detailed analysis regarding any tumors or tissues.

Manufacturers are progressively embedding machine learning algorithms into the products they sell to overcome this issue, allowing the system to output coordinates of identified objects rather than raw hyperspectral data cubes.

2.    Hyperspectral imaging application for detecting airborne methane: Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and numerous regulatory organizations are making substantial efforts to drastically cut its emissions from the oil and gas sector. 

A small number of "super-emitting" sources account for a sizable amount of these emissions. Under different environmental conditions and industrial situations, airborne infrared hyperspectral imaging can detect and quantify these emissions and gas leaks.

Recent measurements of a measuring program consisting of repeated controlled releases with methane flow rates ranging from 3 to 55 cubic meters per hour (m3/h) showed the capability of airborne-based methane emission detection systems. These devices can detect methane emission rates as low as 3 m3/h, according to the demonstrated data. 

Using the information gathered from these tests, it has been determined that airborne infrared hyperspectral imaging is a highly effective and sensitive method for locating and estimating methane leakage.

3.    Hyperspectral imaging application to detect foreign matter on meat: Foreign material contamination is one of the main causes of food recalls and public health alerts (34 of the 124 occurrences in 2019), according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a trend that has been escalating since 2012. 

Hyperspectral imaging remote sensing is a tool that researchers with the Agricultural Research Service are looking into using to find these substances in the chicken before they get into the consumer supply chain. The technology entails shooting several digital pictures at various light wavelengths.

Processing plants are usually how foreign material gets into chicken products. Most of the material comes from the degradation of processing machinery and equipment, wood pallets, and worker protective gear.

In addition to creating hyperspectral imaging technologies for smart sensing and robotic removal of foreign items found during meat processing, scientists are also working on artificial intelligence technology. Although the initiative is focused on the chicken business specifically, the technology and procedures could also be used for other food products.

By processing and analyzing hyperspectral photographs, hidden characteristics that would not otherwise be visible can be found. 


HSI is a cutting-edge imaging technique that has a wide range of uses, including biological research, image-guided surgery, drug analysis, military, agriculture, food quality monitoring, mining, geology, and medical diagnostics.

However, the high cost of hyperspectral imaging devices, the lack of infrastructure and skilled professionals to support hyperspectral imaging, and the high volume of data produced by hyperspectral devices are some of the challenges faced by the industry.


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