Slide 1 Slide 2 Slide 3 Slide 4 Slide 4 Slide 4 Slide 4

Fly with me: UAV image enhancement

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Tue, Mar 30, 2010 @ 10:59 AM

Tags: deformable mirror, adaptive optics, boston micromachines, UAV, turbulence

MEMS deformable mirror(MEMS DM) technology UAV applies adaptive opticsis right now at the point where a high-volume application could propel the devices from being installed in very specialized setups to being a standard component in production equipment. The best avenue to jump this figurative chasm is to find applications where a moderate number of devices is required, but price sensitivity is low. One such application is advanced surveillance systems for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The use of a camera on a UAV provides invaluable information in terms of reconnaissance applications and confirming location. In order to improve the imaging capability, an adaptive optics system containing a deformable mirror, high-speed wavefront sensor and control system could be used to remove atmospheric aberrations between the camera and objects of interest. With this in mind, four major issues need to be addressed:

1) Nature of the aberrations
Obtaining high resolution images from a UAV camera is a challenge due to the atmospheric turbulence around the UAV as it flies at high speeds past its target. This turbulence is separated into two categories: turbulent airflow near the camera due to the high speed of the UAV and normal atmospheric variations in temperature in the extended distance beyond the turbulent layer of air. There are no doubt a number of people currently working on this problem (both out in the open and covertly) to increase the usefulness of UAVs. Recent discussion took place at the Photonics West Conference in San Francisco in January of this year as part of the Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies XII and Atmospheric and Oceanic Propagation of Electromagnetic Waves IV tracks (Conferences 7587 and 7588, respectively). Click here and here to see abstracts of the sessions.

2 and 3) Portability and Low Power
The system would have to be portable and have low-power to even be considered for use. MEMS DMs are capable of both, with individual channel operational power in the microAmps and drive electronics which can fit in the mid- to large-sized UAVs in operation today. Work is in progress at Boston Micromachines to further reduce the size of the electronics through a recently-awarded SBIR to explore multiplexing of MEMS DM drive electronics. (See Press Release here)

4) High Speed
Finally, the device would have to be capable of operating at high speeds. MEMS DMs have been demonstrated to operate at speeds of 60kHz and recent developments at BMC have produced a driver that can operate up to 400kHz.

We look forward to discussions going forward, especially around efforts to model and correct for the aberrations in the optical path, and hope that we can one day make an impact on this challenging field.

Website Update: More information for you, our customers

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Tue, Mar 23, 2010 @ 11:40 AM

Tags: adaptive optics, boston micromachines, product information

To add to the diversity of our blog posts, I'm takingNew manuals for BMC deformable mirrors this opportunity to let you know that we've made a change to our website to give potential and current customers more access to data on our products.
Today we launched the Customer Support page in our Product Information section ( On this page you can:
1) Obtain copies of our product manuals through a simple request form. After submitting the form, an e-mail will automatically be sent to you with instructions on how to download the documents.
2) Request the latest software for our devices (see screen shot to the right of our latest beta test software). Whether you're curious about updates to software you already have or you want to request new software, just fill out the form and a customer representative will contact you to find out what you need. We'll do our best to get it to you in a timely manner.
I hope you're enjoying the blog thus far and please leave a comment either way!
P.S. If you are a current customer and either of the images you see with this post is unfamiliar to you, definitely send in a request!


Posted by Michael Feinberg on Tue, Mar 02, 2010 @ 11:27 AM

Tags: deformable mirror, boston micromachines, Boston University, Photonics Center

A question that is asked from time to time around here is, “What is your relationship with Boston University? “  People want to know:  Are you a spin-off from their incubation program?  Do you receive financial support from BU?  Do they own your technology?  Well, the short answer is yes and no.   Here’s a summary:

We are an independent company which receives no financial support from BU and has a close relationship with the University for a few reasons:

1)      We license some of BU’s MEMS technology manufacturing process from the University so that we may profit from it and contribute back to the University

2)      Our founders are a BU professor (Tom Bifano, Director of the Photonics Center) and a BU grad (Paul Bierden, CEO, BSME ’92, MSME ’94).

3)      We collaborate on focused development which includes both fundamental research and advanced development.

We are connected due to our mutual interest in photonics technology and expertise in the field.  It has been a beneficial relationship to both parties and we hope to continue the relationship as we move forward with new projects and new technological improvements.