Remote Optical Sensing System with Smart Spatial Sampling

Technology #31792

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Schematic block diagram showing an embodiment of the smart spatial sampling/sensing application using mirror scanning of spot beams
Nabeel Riza, Ph.D.
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John Miner
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Spatially smart optical sensing and scanning

US Patent 8,213,022 B1

Three-dimensional (3D) object sensing is required in a variety of industrial and scientific applications, including thermal sensing, animation, laser machining, parts inspection, virtual reality, building scanning, and architecture and model construction. Currently available technologies lack spatially agile targeting of sensing elements, providing less flexibility in sensing operations. Target 3D information is usually obtained by scanning a laser beam in the transverse dimensions of a target to acquire the target transverse and axial (in light direction) dimensions data. A considerable amount of effort is spent extracting the target axial direction data via optical triangulation methods. Current optical distance measurement 3D sensors have, aside from the natural beam diffraction-based expansion, a fixed scanning beam spot size for all scan positions of the beam on the 3D target, also known as non-smart spatial sampling.

Technical Details

An invention from the University of Central Florida involves an optical sensor for spatially smart 3D object measurements, using variable focal length lenses to target both specular and diffuse objects by matching transverse dimensions of the sampling optical beam to the transverse size of the flat target for a given axial target distance for instantaneous spatial mapping of the flat target zone. There is no need for a point-by-point smallest resolution transverse beam scan. This sensor adjusts the transverse beam spot size at each axial position based on the specific target's 3D shape profile, and a smart or optimized smaller sampling data set is generated for a given target.

The sensor allows volumetric data compressed remote sensing of 3D object transverse dimensions including cross-sectional size, motion transverse displacement, inter-objects transverse gap distance, 3D animation data acquisition, laser-based 3D machining, and 3D inspection and testing. This smart spatial sampling method not only applies to the sampling of 3D targets, but also works for 2D (e.g. optical film, planar chip substrate/wafer, cloth, plastic sheets), and 1D (e.g. tape, 1D bar codes) targets.

Additionally, this invention provides a 2D optical display by using 2D laser scanning and 3D beamforming optics engaged with sensor optics to measure the distance of the display screen from the laser source and scanning optics by adjusting its focus to produce the smallest focused beam spot on the display screen. Specifically, a full color display uses red, green, and blue lasers in combination with one 2D scan mirror system and one 3D beamformer optic, such as a programmable analog-digital variable focus lens system.


  • Spatially agile targeting of sensing elements
  • Instantaneous spatial mapping
  • No need for point-by-point smallest resolution transverse beam scan


  • Optical remote sensing
    • Remote extreme temperature sensing
  • Thermal sensing
  • Animation
  • Laser machining
  • Parts inspection
  • Virtual reality
  • Building scanning
  • Architecture and model construction