SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017

This year's symposium will be in California, 9-13 April.

01 January 2017

SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing (DCS) has a new location for 2017 in Anaheim, CA (USA), a new program to recognize early-career professionals, and new conference topical tracks. The tracks will highlight fiber-optic sensors; unmanned autonomous systems; and sensing, imaging, and photonics technologies for agriculture, food safety, and water quality applications.

The new location, in an area known for aerospace and other technology industries, is part of a three-city rotation for the annual meeting. After the 9-13 April 2017 meeting in California, SPIE DCS will return to Orlando, FL (USA), in April 2018, and to Baltimore, MD (USA), in April 2019.

Approximately 5000 attendees are expected this April at the collocated symposia, Defense + Security and Commercial + Scientific Sensing and Imaging.

This year’s meeting will have nearly 1800 technical presentations on IR sensing, spectroscopic techniques, computational image-processing methods, quantum cascade lasers, radar, lidar, and more, along with a three-day exhibition with about 370 exhibitors, a job fair, 32 onsite courses, and an extensive industry program.

Two plenary speakers will provide insight into the latest technology projects at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

photo of Parker AbercrombiePlenary speaker Parker Abercrombie (right) is a senior software engineer and the immersive visualization project lead at JPL. He will discuss how JPL is using immersive technology to change how space exploration is conducted today.

Abercrombie's team is developing a mixed reality tool, OnSight, that will allow scientists and engineers to work virtually on Mars. The lead developer of the science targeting software for the upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission, Abercrombie will also discuss what's coming next.

The other plenary speaker will be Thomas J. Burns, director of DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office and a pioneer of technologies that can extract information from massive quantities of multisensor data.

photo of Thomas BurnsBurns (right) has experience directing computer vision research at the US Air Force Research Lab and in the private sector, where he was a founder of two technology companies, including Object Video, an industry leader in video analytics for physical security applications.

The 47 conferences at SPIE DCS cover a broad range of technologies with applications in many commercial enterprises, not just in the defense and security sector. Sensing, communication, and robotic technologies, for instance, are necessary for food and energy production, agricultural and environmental monitoring, and disaster relief. New materials developments such as in graphene, photonic crystals, and quantum dots are opening up new possibilities for sensor technologies in fields as diverse as healthcare and entertainment.

The worldwide growth in sensing and imaging devices and techniques has been accompanied by a growing need for data and image analysis tools as well as a means to visualize and act on large amounts of data.

The fundamental and emerging topics at DCS that provide solutions for those needs include surveillance and reconnaissance, displays, data and signal processing, target recognition, unmanned autonomous systems, laser metrology, plasmonics, electronic imaging systems, scanning, and quantum information and computation.

In the conference on micro- and nanotechnology sensors, systems, and applications, SPIE Fellow Shouleh Nikzad of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will chair a session on repurposing space sensors and technologies for healthcare and medical applications. The session brings together scientists with multidisciplinary backgrounds to discuss how they have used technologies for astrophysics in medical applications such as detecting cancer.

Among the presenters will be former astronaut and medical doctor Scott Parazynski who will give a keynote talk recounting his experience of deploying JPL's Electronic Nose (ENose) on a 1998 flight to the International Space Station with astronaut John Glenn Jr.

Nikzad will also moderate a panel discussion following her conference session on future directions for these applications.


A new program that will recognize 10 early-career professionals who conduct outstanding work in product development or research in sensing, imaging, and optics for defense, commercial, and scientific fields will also debut during the event.

The “Rising Researchers” program at SPIE DCS offers professional development and networking opportunities to distinguished young researchers who received their terminal degree within the last 10 years.

The 10 to be acknowledged and the papers they will present are:

  • SPIE member Nathan Cahill, associate dean for industrial partnerships in the College of Science at Rochester Institute of Technology (USA); piecewise flat embeddings for hyperspectral image analysis
  • SPIE member Matt Graham, principal investigator at the Micro-Femto Energetics Lab at Oregon State University (USA); ultrafast microscopy for resolving the efficiency-limiting photocurrent generation dynamics in van der Waals materials
  • SPIE member Daniel LeMaster, a technical advisor in the Sensors Directorate of the US Air Force Research Lab; pyBSM, a Python package for modeling imaging systems
  • SPIE member Yongmin Liu of Northeastern University (USA); deep-subwavelength near-field imaging based on perovskite and doped semiconductors at IR frequencies
  • SPIE member Daniela Moody, a machine learning and data scientist at Descartes Labs (USA); crop classification using temporal stacks of multispectral satellite imagery
  • SPIE member Shuo Pang, assistant professor at University of Central Florida; compressive video sensing with side information
  • SPIE member Junsuk Rho, assistant professor at Pohang University of Science and Technology (Republic of Korea); hyperlens for real-time high-throughput biomolecular imaging
  • SPIE member Fei Tian, a research assistant professor from Stevens Institute of Technology (USA); lab-on-fiber optofluidic platform for in-situ study of therapeutic peptides and bacterial response
  • John Hennessy of JPL; materials and process development for the fabrication of far ultraviolet device-integrated filters for visible-blind Si sensors
  • Adrian Tang of JPL and University of California, Los Angeles (USA); who will give an overview of CMOS technology for radiometry and passive imaging

imageOn the SPIE industry stage in the Anaheim Convention Center 11-13 April will be leaders from Ocean Optics, the Aerospace Corp., FLIR, and others to discuss the small satellites known as CubeSats, high-speed imaging and motion analysis, sensing for autonomous vehicles, food safety, thermal imaging, government policy, and other topics.

A keynote talk at 4 pm 12 April from SPIE member Louay Eldada, CEO and cofounder of Quanergy Systems, will focus on opportunities in lidar for autonomous vehicles and the future of sensing.

The industry program also includes three days of demonstrations showing how Hollywood films employ technologies originally created for defense applications. IJK Controls, a US company specializing in control system design and analysis, will demonstrate its stabilized gimbals and other tracking and pointing technologies — common on movie sets for many action, adventure, and science fiction films — during the DCS Expo, Tuesday through Thursday.

Gunmar Ristroph, an IJK Controls partner, will also be on an industry panel Thursday morning discussing movie "magic" and cinema science.

Another industry panel, on Tuesday, will explore the emerging optical technologies used in production, from food sorting and characterization to detection of contaminated or counterfeit foods.

These and other industry sessions are open to all attendees.

The job fair at the DCS Expo will be run Tuesday and Wednesday. A social hour in the exhibition hall, “Evening at the Expo,” will begin at 5 pm Tuesday.

The onsite courses at SPIE DCS are taught by recognized experts in industry and academia and will cover IR sensors and systems, optomechanics, lasers, radiometry, “deep learning” techniques, and other subject matter.

The chair for the Commercial + Scientific Sensing and Imaging symposium is SPIE Fellow Majid Rabbani of the Rochester Institute of Technology (USA). Cochair is SPIE Senior Member and SPIE Fellow Robert Fiete, chief technologist and Engineering Fellow at Harris Corp. Space and Intelligence Systems (USA).

Donald Reago Jr., director of the US Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, is chair for the 2017 Defense + Security symposium. Arthur A. Morrish, vice president of advanced concepts and technology at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems (USA), is cochair.


SPIE leaders recently commended the “common sense reforms” of a revised US government travel policy that improves the approval process for government scientists to attend scientific conferences to present their research.

The action by the Office of Management and Budget in 2016 improves the process for government scientists while maintaining responsible accountability and transparency over government resources.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect a change in plenary speakers and more detail on some conferences and events.

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