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Spectral imager and sight restoring tech win prizes at Photonics West

A handheld hyperspectral imager from US firm TruTag Technologies has won a Prism Award for Photonics Innovation at SPIE Photonics West. The company was presented with the award during the show on 1 February in San Francisco.

TruTag Technologies’ model 4100 handheld imager captures and processes a full multi-megapixel hyperspectral datacube without using external processing. The company’s solution has been developed for product authentication in markets including healthcare, food, electronics and consumer goods.

TruTags are microtags with a specific spectral signature that are recognised by the firm’s hyperspectral reader. The tags are FDA approved as safe, edible and do not interfere with other ingredients. They can be used as brand protection for pharmaceuticals or in food and food packaging supply chains, for instance.

Also at Photonics West, Zeev Zalevsky, who heads the electro optics programme at Israel’s Bar Ilan University, was awarded second prize in SPIE’s Startup Challenge for a device that restores perception to blind or visually impaired people. Zalevsky is CTO and founder of IC Touch, a company offering a specialised contact lens that translates visual information from a camera into tactile sensations delivered to the cornea. The technique is analogous to using touch to read Braille patterns.

Zalevsky received $5,000 for second place in the competition, which was held on 1 February and won by Harvard University spin-off Cellino for its gene therapy technology.

Earlier in the show, visitors to the BiOS Optogenetics and Optical Manipulation conference heard from Stanford University’s Daniel Palanker on his work developing implants that restore sight to patients with retinal diseases like age-related macular degeneration.

Palanker’s device, which is being incorporated in a product called Prima by French firm Pixium Vision, projects images from video goggles onto the retina using pulsed near-infrared light. Photovoltaic arrays placed under the retina then restore visual acuity when stimulated by the NIR light.

The device is awaiting approval for clinical trials in the UK and in France with the goal of delivering improved visual perception, potentially to the level of face recognition, Pixium Vision states.

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