Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

NASA to Start Helping Detectives 78

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the right-hand-meet-left-hand dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "With a new photographic laser device developed to check damages on the Space Shuttle, NASA is going to help the FBI to investigate crime scenes. The Laser Scaling and Measurement Device for Photographic Images (LSMDPI) was designed to provide a non-intrusive means of adding a scale to a photograph, which is very useful when looking at an object in space when there is no size reference. But the LSMDPI, which weighs only a half-pound and can be attached directly to a camera's tripod, will also be used on Earth in crime and accident scene investigations. It also could be used for oil and chemical tank monitoring or aerial photography."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NASA to Start Helping Detectives

Comments Filter:
  • This pattern appears in the photograph along with the image of the object under investigation, enabling the viewer to measure the size of the object

    This will take pornography to a new level!

    Seriously though, this seems like a very neat idea. It's like embedding a topographical map within a photo to give it a more 3 dimensional perspective.

    I really think this technology would apply very well to image recognition applications. I'm thinking of the recent article on China's facial recognition surveillan [slashdot.org]

    • it sounds like zapping a few lasers at someone's face would provide even more accurate measurements.

      WARNING: Do not look directly into LASER with remaining eye.
    • This seems rather primitive, actually. It just shoots two lasers into the scene to be photographed. More cool would be illuminating a whole grid of dots in the scene to give much better perception of depth and distance from the box. And there is a yet cooler way, with an aiming laser range finder, that aims a laser around the scene and scans a 2D "image" of the depths in it. One shot takes less than 10 seconds, and if you shoot from a few different angles, you can even reconstruct a virtual 3D scene of the

  • He's a world-weary FBI investigator with depth perception issues. She's a feisty NASA electrical design engineer armed with twin lasers. They fight crime!

    (Don't like mine? Make your own [epix.net]!)
  • DUPE! Bush ordered the NSA to help out with domestic law enforcement over two years ago.
  • ...when NASA is looking for you from Space.
    • What if your behind the satellite? Huh huh?
    • Except... (Score:3, Funny)

      by KylePflug (898555)
      indoors.
    • Oh great, another issue for the liberals to get their panties in a knot.

      I wonder how long it will take for All Franken to start whining about this on his radio show, annoying both his listeners as he whimpers about what a misuse of technology this is, and what a horrible miscarriage of justice it entails.
  • So when is Steve Jobs going to announce this new product? I'm surprised Apple haven't entered the digital depth photography business a long time ago. It's about time NASA start releasing taxpayer-funded technology back into the marketplace. :P
  • Bet they use one of these babies [about.com] in their detective work.
  • I hope there is no crime that is committed in an ocean.
    Then a shark will swallow it and we'll see friggen sharks with friggen lazers that measure friggen distances.

    LSMDPI:
    Laser
    Sharks
    Make
    Damn
    People
    Inpotent

    THINK ABOUT IT
    SHARKS WITH A FRIGGEN LASER THAT MEASURES SCALE!!!
  • ...or is this a simple as "we've got two lasers a known distance from one another and they shoot in the same direction"? I mean, who couldn't have come up with this "invention"? At least it's not a software patent...
    • You're right. After RingTFA, it also includes a software package for viewing the images, where you can input the two points and their distance and it will give you the scale of what you are looking at. Enormously complex, indeed.

      Whether or not this deserved to be on the front page is another issue. Hey, its a Roland Piquepaille story, so why not?
  • Speaking of which, how long before someone breaks one by sitting on it and trying to scan their butt?
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @03:22PM (#14829902)
    Put a fork in it. That franchise is done already.
  • by revery (456516) * <charles.cac2@net> on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @03:24PM (#14829921) Homepage
    The Laser Scaling and Measurement Device for Photographic Images (LSMDPI) was designed to provide a non-intrusive means of adding a scale to a photograph, which is very useful when looking at an object in space when there is no size reference.

    I can just see the new spam now:

    Want your equipment to look bigger from space?

    try SeeAlice today...

  • "Well, thanks to the LSMDPI there was clearly some serious file sharing going on here. Just look at the massive damage those copyrights have suffered!"
  • from NASA.
    Could very well create in industry that pays more in taxes then it cost to develop. Like so many other spinoffs.
    • This is very similiar to the broken window falacy.

      Sure, NASA research can produce useful spinoffs... but so could just researching the spinoff technologies directly (and probably much more efficently). We spend how many billions on space travel? And we get a laser measurement system? That could just have easily been developed by the private sector for a fraction of the cost. Bahh, this is pure propoganda in order to drum up funding. "Look, our NASA technology has civilian uses too! Isn't this wonderful! So
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @03:33PM (#14829988)
    Another lousy and expensive solution looking for a problem.

    This kind of thingy is somewhat less useful and accurate than a "ruler" in the picture:

    • You have to calibrate the laser dot spacing against a ruler anyway, so you don't save the cost or weight of carrying around a ruler.
    • The calibration is only good at ONE distance and perpendicular to the lasers.
    • Rulers and tape measures can be used to measure other things, that lasers can't- like skew distances, or circumferences.
    • Rulers always show up as the right brightness on a photograph. Lasers have to be adjusted in brightness to match the scene, and may wash out if a flash is used.
    • Red laser light is not too visible if the object is like, red, or covered with blood.
    Don't go put all your money on this company.. oh wait...
    • you don't save the cost or weight of carrying around a ruler.

      That was never the point. The point is that you don't have to disrupt the crime scene to get your measurements now. When evidence is microscopic, that can be extremely important.

      Rulers and tape measures can be used to measure other things, that lasers can't- like skew distances, or circumferences.

      Once you've got a scale in a digital image, you can measure curves to your heart's content in software, without distrurbing the crime scene.

      Red laser lig
      • >Rulers and tape measures can be used to measure other things, that lasers can't- like skew distances, or circumferences. >Once you've got a scale in a digital image, you can measure curves to your heart's content in software, without distrurbing the crime scene. Yes, please explain how you can get 3-D info out of a 2-D image of lines projected onto a 3-D surface. You'll get a Nobel proze in Math, and they don't even give one. THen explain how you can measure the circumference of a body given the
    • by koick (770435)
      Sure, this lets you measure something without getting too close to it (e.g. disturbing a crime scene or disturbing a fish) For about $70 we use an underwater version of this:

      Of course you expoy them while they are aligned. We do this with their dots at 2 1/2". This setup gives very accurate measurements well over 40' (that is, beyond the point at which you can even really see i

    • I actually helped with some of the development of this product, so let me clear up a few questions:

      You have to calibrate the laser dot spacing against a ruler anyway, so you don't save the cost or weight of carrying around a ruler.

      The lasers are coaligned in their case and are calibrated at manufacture to be exactly one inch apart up to a distance of roughly 20 feet. Each unit is tested before it goes out the door.

      The calibration is only good at ONE distance and perpendicular to the lasers

      The la

  • This violates my sacred rights of privacy! Think of the children! Aaargh!
  • I've seen this technique used for imagery (video and still images) from deep-sea submersibles/ROVs for years (as one example that others are somewhat likely to have seen, watch for the twin red dots in many of the underwater scenes in "Aliens of the Deep" - which, I just realized, was done in cooperation with NASA). It kind of sucks when you see a new formation/organism/whatever, take pictures, then realize you have absolutely no way of telling how big it is when you look at the images later.
  • The idea is way cool, but the technolgy is almost too simple! This, however, is a good thing... as we oftentimes neglect the simple, elegant, and effectieve solutions that spring up when we NEED them.

    Its not quite a new concept, but I'd really like to see this, along with other technolgies, implemented into my plain old digital camera (PODC) :)

    I think a lot of people could benefit from knowing the scale of images taken with their camera.... More useful, howerver, would be if the laser beams used an i
  • Can it core a apple, oh Chef of the Future?
  • If this could help monitor, say, oil tanks, then why doesn't NASA license the technology out to oil companies for exorbitant fees? It might help provide funding to get some important projects, ahem, off the ground.
    • Why doesn't NASA licence the technology? Hmmm.... well maybe the technology developed by a government agency, with tax money, belongs to all the taxpayers anyway?

      Why doesn't the government trademark the flag and licence that too?
  • Cue the Bladerunner jokes...
  • It's Roland the Plogger again, this time hyping a NASA technology.

    It's not much of a technology. That's called "structured light", and it's been used for years in industrial computer vision systems. It's one of the simplest ways to measure depth in an image.

    It's not even new to law enforcement. Here's a PowerPoint presentation [geradts.com] on using it to look at stamped logos in pills. This is from a 2004 conference in Dallas.

  • These NASA Tech Briefs offers more information:

    The tool (see Figure 1) includes an aluminum housing, within which are mounted four laser diodes that operate at a wavelength of 670 nm. The laser diodes are spaced 1 in. (2.54 cm) apart along a baseline. The laser diodes are mounted with setscrews, which are used to adjust their beams to make them all parallel to each other and perpendicular to the baseline. During the adjustment process, the effect of the adjustments is observed by measuring the positions

  • Last summer I was researching lichen [wikipedia.org] and using them to detect changes in the environment. We needed to measure their surface area and used a similar apparatus for doing so. Except, instead of photographing the laser, as the article suggests, we shot them at the lichen and used some calculus to grab surface area.
  • This chilled me along a few axes at once.

    Following a recent request from Armor, NASA also included English/Metric units -- millimeters, centimeters, meters, and kilometers -- to support European customers and aerial photography.

    So NASA is still operating in non-metric units, they created a laser measuring device which TFA suggests is measured with software outputting non-metric units though we don't know if they use the decimal system or say 1/16 inch, they had to be requested to add SI (systeme internati

  • ... in an episode of "Numbers" or "CSI" or some show of that type?
  • This has been used for some time on submersibles. You will quite frequently see two, three, or four laser dots in video from submarines and ROVs.

The first version always gets thrown away.

Working...