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Seeing your true colors: Standards for hyperspectral imaging
Date:7/1/2014

Today, doctors who really want to see if a wound is healing have to do a biopsy or some other invasive technique that, besides injuring an already injured patient, can really only offer information about a small area. But a technology called hyperspectral imaging offers doctors a noninvasive, painless way to discriminate between healthy and diseased tissue and reveal how well damaged tissue is healing over a wide area. The catch? A lack of calibration standards is impeding its use.

After a successful non-human trial, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have started gathering data on how human skin looks under various wavelengths of light in order to develop these badly needed standards.*

Unlike consumer digital cameras and the human eye, which only see red, green and blue light, a relatively narrow portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, each pixel of a hyperspectral image captures information for hundreds of narrow spectral bandsfrom the ultraviolet to the infrared.

According to NIST researcher David Allen, being sensitive to so many wavelengths means hyperspectral imagers can see many different things that humans can't see, including the amount of oxygen in human tissues, an indicator of healing.

"The potential of the technology has been proven, but the problem is that researchers are simply lacking a way to assure consistent results between labs," says Allen. "Standards development has itself been hindered by a lack of human skin reflectance data, especially in the ultraviolet and short-wave infrared."

Catherine Cooksey, the project leader for the spectrophotometry program that establishes and maintains the national scale of reflectance, says that before we delve into what diseased tissue looks like hyperspectrally, we need to know what so-called "normal" tissue looks like. Furthermore, she says that they are looking to quantify the variability both within an individual an
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Contact: Mark Esser
mark.esser@nist.gov
301-975-8735
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert  

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Seeing your true colors: Standards for hyperspectral imaging
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