Vision of the Future
June 30, 2016
The ability of technology to 'see' far beyond human ability and capacity, has almost unlimited potential to increase our perception, our efficiency and ultimately, our safety.
Pop Quiz. Who would you rather have as your driver, a human or a computer? Who are you more willing to entrust with the safety of those you care about? For many, the answer is simple, “a human”—but while this confidence in our species seems reasonable, it represents a severe misunderstanding of just how far technology has come. Humans are blind. There is so much we don’t see; there’s so much we can’t see. Self-driving cars, on the other hand, “see” everything. They see in all directions and in more than just visible light. They are equipped with lasers, radar, stereo cameras, GPS, WiFi and even sonar—allowing them to track the most subtle changes in the environment and giving the system a level of “visibility” that no human could comprehend or process.
Yes, humans are blind—but advances in imaging technologies promise to change that and we are seeing the benefits all around us. The ability of technology to “see” and process information, far beyond human ability and capacity, has almost unlimited potential to increase our perception, our efficiency and ultimately, our safety.
Today’s technologies can give us perception that is orders of magnitude beyond our natural human abilities.
Engineers at Valtech have been exploring this potential and have developed sophisticated 3D scanning integrations that could change the way we travel.
It started with a challenge: Build a restroom that can self-monitor and report when it needed to be cleaned. This “smart” system would have a 3D snapshot of what a clean restroom looks like and would then regularly scan for any deviations or irregularities. Given the unique constrains of the project, Valtech engineers experimented with several imaging technologies—including thermal imaging, lasers, structured light, and digital light processing (DPL). The result was an advanced monitoring system that could detect the smallest changes to an environment or object. The engineers quickly realized that their technology had much broader applications and could unlock the door to many new and exciting innovations.
One such application is self-updating maps at airport terminals. The technology would volumetrically scan and measure the terminal for any important updates—like a temporary wall in a construction zone. This information would then be automatically relayed to, and reflected in, digital maps around the airport. With an intelligent monitoring system, airports could more easily detect and manage potential logistical problems and keep traffic moving much more efficiently.
Airport security is a top priority and integrating advanced imaging systems could take security to the next level. Valtech’s monitoring system could be adapted to detect unattended baggage left at the curbside or within passenger terminals. Additionally, thermal imagine can be used to count passengers in line at security checkpoints and could help by managing staffing and congestion.
Valtech’s reimagining of airports is just a small example of how advanced monitoring systems can change the world around us. Today’s technologies can give us perception that is orders of magnitude beyond our natural human abilities. Maybe it’s time we admit our blindness, and embrace the future.