The year was 1888. Eastman Kodak company had just introduced a new innovative camera that would change the world and revolutionize the photography business. Their slogan “You press the button – we do the rest” promised to bring the new technology available for millions of people. The technology, that had previously required cumbersome optics and chemistry know-how, was suddenly within reach of common people. There and then, as the result of Kodak’s engineers’ unconventional ideas, snapshot photography was born.

Kodak had changed two major things: they used a roll of 100 exposure celluloid film instead of heavy and fragile glass plates, and provided the difficult developing and printing process as a service. Using preloaded film not only made the camera more portable but also made it possible to take multiple pictures with one roll and, as the professionals took care of the actual film developing, printing and reloading process, the camera was easy to use and good results guaranteed. Kodak camera did still not provide printed photos immediately – problem not solved until 1948 by Edwin Land and Polaroid camera – but that was not a major obstacle at that time.

Kodak changed everything in the photography business and became a huge success. It was a game changer for people and businesses as well, opening new opportunities for photographers in press, art, portrait, science and many other fields

Technology that used to require bulky, expert-operated instruments and deep know-how on how to process the measured data to usable images has been refined to a mobile, real-time HSI photography tool that gives results immediately.

In many ways, with Specim IQ camera platform we are doing to hyperspectral imaging (HSI) business what the Eastman Kodak and Polaroid innovations did to traditional photography. Technology that used to require bulky, expert-operated instruments and deep know-how on how to process the measured data to usable images has been refined to a mobile, real-time HSI photography tool that gives results immediately. We have squeezed the optics in Specim IQ to the size of a standard SRL camera weighing only 1.3kg and included multicore parallel processing and mobile connectivity instead of an external computer. Large touchscreen display and simple user interface guarantee the practical usability. Everything is made ready for just about anyone to make hyperspectral image recording in their work and use it in decision making. No deep expertise is needed in using the camera or interpreting the result.

And it is not only the hardware that has changed. One of the major innovation is the IQ Studio software that makes it possible for professionals or advanced users to develop classification applications which the user can download to the camera. The actual user need not be data analyst expert, nor understand chemometrics or spectroscopy to get the results they want. This hidden background work has already been done for them by the people who develop the processing and design the applications for them to use. This is the beginning of hyperspectral snapshot photography and we can now say “Hyperspectral goes mobile”.

It is also a great opportunity for those companies and businesses who can benefit from HSI, offering new possibilities and changing the way how their business engages with their customers. A hyperspectral camera gives processed classification results for immediate decision making and stores the images for both the customer and the service provider as a digital evidence.

With the possibility to upload several applications, both completely new and upgrades to existing ones, there is a possibility for recurring revenue stream with new features and improvements. As a result, the camera will provide an increasing lifetime value for the end users through software updates, new versions and features. We can even foresee an application store providing third party apps and tools for download, and a hosted customer community centre for immediate support and discussion with other users.

It is already clear that HSI promises use cases in life sciences, plant and vegetation, cosmetics, art and many research applications. There are many clear value propositions of Specim IQ to OEM’s

  • Provides unique mobility and on-site results
  • Provides continuous revenue stream with SW updates and new features
  • Will attract totally new user and application segments
  • First HSI camera that can be customized to user needs and practises
  • Customer will receive increasing lifetime value through SW updates

These are all features not available for HSI business before. Therefore, we can say that Specim IQ is the innovation that will change this business from hereafter and forever.

Esko Herrala is a co-founder of Specim and has been working in the field of hyperspectral imaging since 1992. At the moment he is taking part in sales and marketing activities as a senior expert in the field of machine vision and industrial applications.