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Development of Infrared Scene Projectors for Fire Fighter Cameras



Joseph P. Rice, Jorge E. Neira, Francine K. Amon


We have developed two types of infrared scene projectors for hardware-in-the-loop testing of thermal imaging cameras such as those used by fire-fighters. In one, direct projection, images are projected directly into the camera. In the other, indirect projection, images are projected onto a diffuse screen, which is then viewed by the camera. Both projectors use a digital micromirror array as the spatial light modulator. Two types of micromirror arrays are being investigated for this application, both having infrared windows: one is a Micromirror Array Projection System (MAPS) engine having resolution of 800 x 600 with mirrors on a 17 micrometer pitch; the other is a Discovery 1100 micromirror array having resolution of 1024 x 768 with mirrors on a 13.68 micrometer pitch. Fire-fighter cameras are typically based upon uncooled microbolometer arrays and currently have resolutions of 320 x 240 or lower. For direct projection, we use an argon-arc source, which provides spectral radiance equivalent to a 10,000 kelvin blackbody over the 7 micrometer to 14 micrometer wavelength range, to illuminate the micromirror array. For indirect projection, an expanded 4 watt CO2 laser beam at a wavelength of 10.6 microns illuminates the micromirror array and the scene formed by the first-order diffracted light from the array is projected onto a diffuse aluminum screen. In both projectors, a well-calibrated reference camera is used to provide non-uniformity correction and brightness calibration of the projected scenes, and the fire-fighter cameras alternately view the same scenes. In this paper, we compare the two methods for this application and report on our quantitative results.
Proceedings Title
Technologies for Synthetic Environments: Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing XIII
Conference Location
San Jose, CA


cameras, diffraction, fire-fighters, infrared, micromirrors, optics, scene projection


Rice, J. , Neira, J. and Amon, F. (2008), Development of Infrared Scene Projectors for Fire Fighter Cameras, Technologies for Synthetic Environments: Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing XIII, San Jose, CA, [online], (Accessed April 18, 2024)
Created March 2, 2008, Updated February 17, 2017