Solutions in Search of Problems: Spectroscopy Takes Flight

Figure 1: Microspectrometers mounted to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) are deployed at altitudes of up to 200 m for reflectance measurements of ground cover and vegetation. Images: Ocean OpticsFigure 1: Microspectrometers mounted to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) are deployed at altitudes of up to 200 m for reflectance measurements of ground cover and vegetation. Images: Ocean Optics

Spectral sensing is so pervasive that most take it for granted. Even miniature spectrometers—at one time an almost subversive technology—have been embraced by late adopters. Yet, spectroscopy has moved beyond routine laboratory and test measurements to take on ever-more sophisticated applications—from monitoring patient vital signs at bedside to identifying suspicious materials on the battlefield. In this article we explore how familiar spectral sensing technologies—and new ways to exploit them—are today addressing a wider range of measurement problems than ever. From adding wireless capabilities to spectrometers to reducing their footprint to the size of a matchbox, manufacturers have provided developers with powerful new tools to inspire innovative solutions for a variety of unmet application needs.

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