Army Licensing Device to Identify Tiny Pests


The U.S. government is licensing the patent for the right to manufacture a stereo imaging device that is used to identify insects, arachnids and crustaceans that transmit disease.

On April 21, 2011, the U.S. Army posted a Federal Register notice—Availability for Exclusive, Non-Exclusive, or Partially-Exclusive Licensing of an Invention Concerning the Method and Apparatus for Stereo Imaging—announcing the availability of the patent license.

“The invention relates to a method and apparatus for the generation of macro scale extremely high resolution digital images and the generation of macro scale extremely high resolution images in 3D,” the notice says.

Additional information provided by the Army describes the device as “a field portable macro imaging device to aid arthropod vector identification.” Arthropods are commonly known as insects, arachnids and crustaceans, and diseases carried by those creatures “have compromised military operations,” the Army says.

“Accurate identification of these pests on site by laymen has always been a problem,” therefore, “labeled, sharp, high resolution images would be helpful,” the Army says. However, “even with modern optics, the very shallow depth of field available for these tiny organisms renders photos that are mostly out of focus,” according to the Army.

Nonetheless, the Army has “developed a portable device that uses a digital camera, a laptop and unique focusing rail/specimen holder that will capture a stack of sequential images of overlapping depth of field for an entire specimen.”

The “stack of images” can be processed using “freeware off the Internet” to produce “a totally focused, ultra high resolution image” of arthropods. The imaging device can be set up on a table, or on any reasonably flat surface, and the image produced can be formatted for display on cell phones and PDA devices for the “quick and accurate identification” of a pest, according to the Army.

The imaging device can also useful to environmental groups, as well as medical, military and pest control to visually identify species with unprecedented clarity and high resolution, says Sara Baragona, a spokesperson for the Army’s Medical Research and Material Command. The device can be developed as an accessory by any camera company, as well as third party accessory companies making tripods and various camera mounts, she said.

For further information contact Elizabeth Arwine, patent attorney, at 301 619-7808 or Dr. Paul Mele, of the Office of Research and Technology Applications, at 301 619- 6664.

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