Hyperspectral imaging offers researchers and governmental authorities a wealth of information by combining spectral and spatial data, facilitating in-depth analysis, material identification, and monitoring of various phenomena across different disciplines.

Hyperspectral imaging is a rapid, accurate, reliable way to analyze targets from small samples to large areas in a non-invasive, non-destructive manner, which makes it an excellent research tool.


Fluorescence map by Forschungszentrum Jülich

Hyperspectral imaging finds applications in a wide range of research fields, including agriculture, forestry, geology, biology, medicine, food quality assessment, environmental monitoring, and more. It is particularly useful in fields like archaeology, art restoration, and material science as it enables researchers to study objects or materials without altering or damaging them.

Over the last few years, hyperspectral cameras and imaging systems have become more compact, economical, and comfortable to use. In addition to traditional chemometric methods, the development of artificial intelligence has enabled data processing and analysis methods like neural networks to be used for hyperspectral data interpretation.

Hyperspectral imaging expands traditional spectroscopy measuring a single spot at a time to scanning non-homogeneous samples and targets fully and rapidly. A hyperspectral camera operating in a specific wavelength range can be used for various applications, for example, in food research to measure fat, moisture, or protein distribution, and in geology to map the distribution of the minerals. The cameras can also be applied in different environments: in laboratories, fields, industrial pilot lines, and airborne.

One of the critical benefits of hyperspectral imaging both in research and practice, is the ability to detect problems early which allows taking preventive and corrective actions. That can help reduce possible damage to quality in the final product, whether about the yield or crop losses, detecting illegal logging, or inspecting quality deviations in food production.

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Hyperspectral imaging for research

Dr. Puneet Mishra, from Wageningen University & Research (WUR) operating Specim FX10 and FX17 cameras in a laboratory system

Specim excellence in hyperspectral imaging

Established in 1995, Specim is the pioneer of hyperspectral imaging system development with excellence in designing and manufacturing ground-breaking products. More than a thousand scientific articles have been published using Specim technology. Much research has been done with Specim products and several innovative Specim products have emerged from the needs addressed by the scientific community.

Specim’s product portfolio covers hyperspectral cameras from visible and near-infrared to the thermal wavelength range, software systems, and accessories. Specim cameras are based on our proprietary line scan (push-broom) technology and they offer excellent cost-performance. The design selection ensures their flexible adaptability to different operating environments.

In addition to the hyperspectral cameras, Specim offers standard scanner setups that enable fast data collection in a laboratory and field, and software tools for application development and validation. Application transfer to an airborne environment is also straightforward and cost-efficient.

Imaging spectrograph

Imaging spectrograph

Hyperspectral imaging systems for different operational environments

Specim products are operated globally in laboratories, field experiments, and airborne missions in various research fields.

Hyperspectral imaging in the laboratory

Much of the hyperspectral imaging is done in laboratories, where the conditions can be reliably regulated. This requires a specific setup, at least:

  • Hyperspectral imaging sensor
  • Scanner
  • Illumination
  • Software
  • Data-acquisition computer

Specim offers several turn-key laboratory scanner systems for exploring different-size samples. As most Specim cameras can be equipped with different front optics, the scanning systems can analyze the samples at the optimized resolution, starting from a micrometer scale.

The scanner systems are easy to use as they are delivered with proper illumination for the specified spectral range. A single software provides a user interface to control the camera parameters, automatically collects image data with the correct aspect ratio, and makes both raw and reflectance data available immediately after the scan.

Analyzing plums and tomatoes with Specim FX10 camera and LabScanner 40×20

Hyperspectral imaging in the field

Sometimes it is not feasible to take the samples to the laboratory. Instead, the measurements are done in the field, which sets specific requirements for the imaging equipment.

In field conditions, ambient light typically makes the illumination. Sunny conditions are optimal for collecting reflectance data. However, artificial illumination may also be an option.

For field/outdoor use, Specim offers hyperspectral cameras with radiometric calibration. Applying the calibration to the collected data provides the highest image data quality and allows measuring the actual spectral radiance from the target. To further obtain reflectance data, there are two options: 1) apply an atmospheric correction, or 2) have a known reflectance reference plate in the imaged scene.

For imaging a stationary target from a stationary camera position, a line-scan hyperspectral camera is usually installed on a rotary stage scanner. Like linear laboratory scanners, Specim rotary scanner systems provide automatic data collection with the scan. As Specim cameras are highly robust, it is also possible to install the cameras also on vehicles or move them with cable sliders.

The handheld Specim IQ camera with built-in data processing and analysis capability is the most compact option for fieldwork. It’s convenient to bring the camera to the samples without the need to bring the samples to a laboratory, which can be impossible in some cases. There is no need for a scanner as the scanning mechanism is integrated into the camera. Based on a processing model uploaded in the camera, the Specim IQ can obtain processed results immediately after the data collection.

Dr. Tommi Nyman Studying Lithops in African Desert with Specim IQ

Hyperspectral imaging for airborne

Any material that is detectable either directly or indirectly based on its spectral features can be mapped with an airborne hyperspectral camera. The point of airborne hyperspectral imaging is to create a material map of the area, land, or water surface under study.

Taking the sensor in the air allows searching and investigating these materials, plant species, etc., from a much larger area than what is immediately visible on the ground – easily hundreds of square kilometers, only limited by altitude and time spent flying.

Specim offers turn-key airborne systems to cover all the spectral regions from visible to thermal infrared. Most of our cameras designed for labs or fields can also be upgraded to full-scale airborne systems. Specim systems are fully calibrated and based on online scan camera(s). They provide the highest image quality, spectral purity, and signal-to-noise ratio, making them ideal for remote sensing.

In 2020, Specim launched the Specim AFX series, a highly advanced hyperspectral system for airborne and UAV use. Based on our market-leading industrial Specim FX series cameras, the Specim AFX sensors are very cost-competitive for drone applications.

Specim AFX camera mounted on a drone