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Smart Camera Tells Tobacco From Marijuana 167

Posted by timothy
from the shinola-detection-much-trickier dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A new smart camera technology not only takes a picture but also assays chemical composition, allowing photographers to tell whether that hand-rolled cigarette contains tobacco or marijuana. Designed to speed industrial inspection systems — such as detecting whether food is spoiled — the new smart camera includes spectral filters that make images of corn fields appear differently from hemp. Spectral cameras have been available for decades, but this microchip version should be cheap enough for almost any application."
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Smart Camera Tells Tobacco From Marijuana

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  • Technology Stoners (Score:3, Informative)

    by Reverand Dave (1959652) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:02PM (#39001023)
    At least in the short term. Once it catches on, there will be a way to circumvent it.
    • by similar_name (1164087) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:11PM (#39001131)

      At least in the short term...

      Yeah, wait, what are we talking about?

    • by nashv (1479253) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:57PM (#39001651) Homepage

      Such as for example, spectral camouflage. Any method that depends on identifying spectra of compounds in a complex mixture depends on spectral deconvolution. Spectral deconvolution is easy to fool, but adding a compound that provides a "difference spectrum" , compensating for the differences in tobacco versus marijuana smoke.

    • The DEA has had the National Guard flying helicopters over the countryside for a long time now, searching for marijuana fields. If I remember correctly, those hemp plants show up quite differently in either infrared or ultraviolet photography. I'm not "up on" this stuff, but I do know that the state regularly flies patrol missions in my area each summer and autumn.

      Damn, this is slashdot - someone probably expects me to research this shit before I post it. But, "Everyone knows that they are looking for ma

      • I'm not sure about the countryside, but this has been done in cities for a while. It's pretty common for people who are growing cannabis to do put halogen lights up in their attic so that the plants can get bright light for a long period. Because this is above the layer of normal house insulation, their roofs show up as warmer than the surroundings.
        • by Pax681 (1002592) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @08:33AM (#39004063)

          I'm not sure about the countryside, but this has been done in cities for a while. It's pretty common for people who are growing cannabis to do put halogen lights up in their attic so that the plants can get bright light for a long period. Because this is above the layer of normal house insulation, their roofs show up as warmer than the surroundings.

          halogen? bad choice tbh, There are really only two choices of lamp types for indoor growers, high intensity discharge lamps (HID lamps) and florescent lamps. Other lamps such as standard household bulbs or halogen are just not up to the job of growing cannabis. They convert most of the power they consume into heat not light or produce a light spectrum that won`t support good plant growth. .
          there are even a new breed of colour balanced LED's which are becoming better by the year. i have a friend who use them in the vegetative stage then moves the plants to the other half of his growing room to use HID's in the flowering stage to great effect.
          Halogens, as mentioned above and not efficient and produce a MASSIVE hear signature leading to what you state above.
          growers with a brain use more efficient and balanced lighting which provide results which give not just a cheaper electricity bill but a far groovier stone!

      • "Everyone knows that they are looking for marijuana!"

        "The Man" is always trying to bring a brother down. It's true.

  • Wonderful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vinehair (1937606) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:03PM (#39001027)
    I'm sure we can all get behind this fantastic use of technology that will further the demonisation of a plant.
    • Re:Wonderful (Score:4, Insightful)

      by r1348 (2567295) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:07PM (#39001073)
      Sure, and how else are they supposed to keep us distracted from real problems?
      • by rrohbeck (944847)

        Real problems? What, you haven't gotten your purple unicorn yet today?
        Here, have one. There you go. And please stick your head back in the sand, you look suspicious.

    • by ranpel (1255408)
      mis-modded - intent underrated not overrated - in a valiant attempt to correct my wrong.. clearly we need more tools, police, laws and criminals in the ongoing battle against evil green plant life.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 10, 2012 @08:04PM (#39001723)
      I don't think you understand how serious of a problem marijuana use is. Did you know that marijuana has been linked to such things as sitting around and getting high?
    • by jamesh (87723)

      The irony is, if the general population was stoned the government could do pretty much whatever it wanted and people wouldn't care, and if they did care, they'd never get themselves organised enough to do anything about it. They might get less tobacco tax revenue, but that's not going to last forever anyway.

  • wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by alienzed (732782) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:04PM (#39001037) Homepage
    so the camera can tell the difference between the color green and brown? Wow!
    • so the camera can tell the difference between the color green and brown? Wow!

      It's better than I can do! I'm colorblind you insensitive clod!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I usually mix!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:07PM (#39001069)

    I couldn't find either of these words in TFA. Whoever wrote the summary needs to put down the bong for a while.

  • Does it? (Score:3, Informative)

    by phobafiliac (704426) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:08PM (#39001087) Homepage
    Perhaps I missed it in the article, but it mentions nothing about marijuana or hand rolled cigarettes. It talks about real roses and silk roses. I suppose, in theory, it could do this, but I think it would tell what kinda of paper they used to roll the joint before it tells us whats inside the joint.
  • by danbuter (2019760) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:10PM (#39001127)
    I can see city police departments calling in orders for this right away. Just think of all the tickets and arrests they'll get out of one of these things!
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:16PM (#39001201)
      I am more concerned about them increasing the number of helicopter patrols. Where I live now, the state sends out helicopters to look for cannabis plants, then indiscriminately arrests anyone who has a cannabis plant on their property. We recently had someone in my county arrested and convicted of cultivating marijuana because the patrol spotted feral hemp on his property.

      Tickets are one thing, but when you have a paramilitary force prepared to arrest or kill anyone over these plants, you are dealing with tyranny.
      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:23PM (#39001271) Homepage Journal

        I am more concerned about them increasing the number of helicopter patrols. Where I live now, the state sends out helicopters to look for cannabis plants, then indiscriminately arrests anyone who has a cannabis plant on their property.

        What's the ROI on that, you think?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          What's the ROI on that, you think?

          Could be pretty good if the forfeiture laws are stilted towards law enforcement.

        • by Eponymous Hero (2090636) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:48PM (#39001555)
          ROI is excellent considering you can confiscate property and money with a low likelihood of it ever being returned. also, agents get to shoot your pets, which they never miss an opportunity to do no matter how small or harmless they are. it's tough enough to find a justified reason to shoot the gun that's been burning a hole in your holster even with the protection of your badge.
        • What's the ROI on that, you think?

          That depends on quality and quantity. Are we talking about simple mexi brick weed or some funky shit from Amsterday or BC? Are we talking about ounces or pounds? And the most important question is just how much of the police force is smoking it?

      • by Miktor (1285622)
        They seriously waste money on fuel, pilots, etc. to find cannabis plants? This is getting ridiculous.
      • by causality (777677)

        I am more concerned about them increasing the number of helicopter patrols. Where I live now, the state sends out helicopters to look for cannabis plants, then indiscriminately arrests anyone who has a cannabis plant on their property. We recently had someone in my county arrested and convicted of cultivating marijuana because the patrol spotted feral hemp on his property. Tickets are one thing, but when you have a paramilitary force prepared to arrest or kill anyone over these plants, you are dealing with tyranny.

        I am not advocating that anyone do anything illegal. So, in a strictly hypothetical sense, just imagine if the response to that was an underground campaign to scatter marijuana seeds all over the private properties of the police chief (or sheriff), various local government officials, state government officials, their friends and families, their staff, local judges, important local businessmen, etc.

        It could at least change the "indiscriminately arresting with no regard for whether deliberate cultivation

        • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Friday February 10, 2012 @08:16PM (#39001813)

          Doesn't work this way. When they find the plants on the property of the official with the government connections, they won't arrest anyone and the local prosecutor will quietly decline to file charges. Nor will they do any civil forfeitures.

          And when they find the exact same plants on the property of the hispanic/black guy's property, or that redneck fellow who has already had a few run ins with the law, that's when they slam on the cuffs and knock the suspect around a bit. And charge him with a crime, and take his property.

          It will never even occur to the government officials doing this that what they are doing is hippo-critical. After all, they "know" the black/hispanic/white trash guy must be guilty of something, even if not this particular thing. And they "know" that judge or police chief is innocent or a good guy that deserves a break, even if the pot garden looks deliberately cultivated.

          • by ganjadude (952775)
            thats what the photographs are for, mothers with nothing to do except their pool boys love to get involved when its for teh children!!!!!
            • Only if actual children are involved. Connected government officials aren't immune to being brought down by scandal, just highly resistant to it.

          • by Ksevio (865461)

            It will never even occur to the government officials doing this that what they are doing is hippo-critical.

            No one ever thinks about how the hippos will feel, they just criticize them.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Here's a fix for that?

        Seed balls. [wikipedia.org] Just start walking around the neighborhood with a bag of these, tossing them into gardens, planters and median strips. Be especially sure to put them in the large planters you find in front of banks and other public buildings. Make sure you wear jeans, boots, hard hat and orange vest, so you look like a worker.

        Do this all over the place. Everywhere. Towns, cities, villages, technical parks; anywhere there is a planter or bare soil. Do it at night, and you can see enti

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      Yay, integrate it into surveillance cams!

  • Tricorders next! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by macraig (621737) <[mark.a.craig] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:12PM (#39001145)

    Who would want a tricorder that couldn't do spectral analysis? We're almost there!

  • by CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:14PM (#39001179) Journal
    That someone was finally able to tell the difference between a corn field and a hemp plantage just by looking at it.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:17PM (#39001207) Journal
    Hemp is *NOT* marijuana. They are related in that they are both cannabis, but they are not the same plant. You can't get high by smoking hemp (well, maybe you could... but Hemp's THC content is over an order of magnitude less than that found in marijuana, so you'd have to smoke at least ten times as much).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Cannabis sativa is Cannabis sativa. The fact that they have different THC levels does not make them different plants anymore than a the height of a Chihuahua makes it any less of a dog than a Great Dane.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        I guess you've never heard of Ruderalis.

      • by mark-t (151149)
        It makes them different in the same way that a Chihuahua is *NOT* a Great Dane. Both are types of dogs, but one is not the other. Likewise, hemp and marijuana are both types of cannabis, but they are not the same... "breed", if you will.
      • Indeed there is only one species of cannabis. Well maybe two or three depending on who you ask - some people describe up to three species: sativa, indica, and ruderalis. But regardless of how you choose to classify cannabis plants - all varieties do produce at least some amount of THC and have varying usefulness as hemp fiber (which I think has to do with how tall the woody/fibrous parts of the plant grow).

        Now, even if the law doesn't differentiate between different potencies of cannabis, law enforcement
    • I, sir, accept your challenge.
  • by tbird81 (946205) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:19PM (#39001229)

    There's always about 80% of commenters here whining about how new technology is going to ruin our lives.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Stormwatch (703920)

      No. Irrational laws do.

      • by n5vb (587569)
        And overzealous enforcement of those irrational laws does even more ..
      • by geekoid (135745)

        No, a public that doesn't get involved does.

        • by ganjadude (952775)
          no, an uneducated population that DOES get involved does.
          • by dryeo (100693)

            The public's educated all right. Hearst put years into educating the public, even invented a new word as people would never of believed the stories if it starred hemp.
            Today a surprising number of people believe that marijuana is very bad and worth locking people up over all due to the way they've been educated. The press has a lot of power especially when working in hand with the government.

    • It takes people who know about technology to spot the ways a technology can be abused.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Slashdot hasn't been a technology website for a long time. It's a site for libertarians and anarchists to complain about how the evil gubmint is out to get them (while Apple and Android fanbois chatter in the background). Now, in fairness, the government does overreach in a lot of cases -- the war on drugs being chiefest among them. But it's a mistake to ascribe those actions to evil motives rather than the far more likely ones of pandering, desperation, and good ole fashioned incompetence. The sad thin

  • Just give me some good old fashioned "dumb" fire and I'll do this for you all day long.
  • From TFA:

    The system-on-chip (SoC) solution can accurately distinguish between objects that appear virtually identical using traditional red-green-blue imaging chips.

    The sentence immediately preceding that one, claims the product senses outside the visual spectrum ("hyper-spectral") and that it can perform remote spectral analysis, but somehow it uses just a good ol' RGB sensor.

    • by Obfuscant (592200) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:32PM (#39001379)

      From TFA:

      The system-on-chip (SoC) solution can accurately distinguish between objects that appear virtually identical using traditional red-green-blue imaging chips.

      The sentence immediately preceding that one, claims the product senses outside the visual spectrum ("hyper-spectral") and that it can perform remote spectral analysis, but somehow it uses just a good ol' RGB sensor.

      Yes, it says that it can differentiate things that a traditional RGB sensor cannot. That means it's NOT a "good ol' RGB sensor".

      Color cameras are just black and white ones with a set of filters over the pixels. Traditional color cameras use red, green and blue filters in a Bayer pattern. You can make a "hyperspectral" camera by using narrower filters of specific wavelengths to detect light at those wavelengths. For example, if you know that corn and someone else differ at a certain wavelength, use a filter at that wavelength.

      You can also make a hyperspectral line imager by using a slit instead of a round aperture and putting a grating or prism behind it. That turns the slit image into a two-D "image" where the slit is broken down by color. One dimension is along the line, the second is by color. Move the camera so the slit covers the desired imaging area and record the spectrum at each "pixel" in the resulting image. Google for "CAP" and "Archer".

    • Almost ALL cameras sense outside the visual range. Remember the Sony "see-through-clothes" camera? Just a low-light camera used in the daytime with an IR filter.
  • Well, shit (Score:5, Funny)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:25PM (#39001301) Homepage Journal
    There goes my business of selling oregano by the ounce in sandwich baggies...
    • You can just switch to paper bags. They're good for the environment too!

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Yeah..paper bags are just great for the environment~

        do people know know what goes into makes and recycling paper? Nastier then plastic.

        • by retchdog (1319261)

          i've suspected this for a while, but i don't really know how to start researching it; googling yields too much noise and propaganda. do you have any links/cites/summaries?

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      I hear the market for individual ounces of powdered laundry detergent is booming.

      Must be all those business travelers needing to do laundry.

  • Better Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by pavon (30274) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:28PM (#39001341)

    Here is another article [physicstoday.org], which is both more informative, and doesn't have an annoying constantly scrolling twitter feed to distract you while you try to read.

  • Heck, I'll even kick in for the shipping for the, ahem, samples.
  • Read the article. This might be able to tell weed from tobacco in the field, but not covered over by paper; it has no penetrative power. (Neither application is mentioned in the article, by the way.)

    • by Rennt (582550)

      They may be thinking about detecting pot smokers in a crowd by doing a spectro analysis of the smoke. In my day we did the same thing... with our eyes.

  • I've always been able to tell a corn field from a hemp one without a camera. Also, I can tell a hemp farm from a marijuana farm, as there there is more than a meter difference in plant height.
  • by markdavis (642305) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:51PM (#39001585)

    What are they talking about? The article says absolutely nothing about differentiating hand-rolled cigarettes, nothing about tobacco, and nothing about marijuana.

  • I wish there was a camera to tell oregano from marijuana. That little sophomore shit at the high school in my neighborhood sold me fugazi again.

    • If a quick sniff won't tell you the difference between grass and oregano, you are probably way too high already....

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        If a quick sniff won't tell you the difference between grass and oregano, you are probably way too high already....

        I'b cot a code and my nose is stupped up.

  • Would be a smart camera that can tell when a summary on slashdot includes information found nowhere within TFA.

  • ...to tell the difference between oregano and weed!

    Thieving dealers...

  • Some facts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @01:09AM (#39003025)

    The Burden of Tobacco Use

    Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Despite these risks, approximately 46.6 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal, and oral cancers.
    http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/osh.htm

    I tried to find the article they had on deaths caused by marijuana, but they don't have one. Lucky we've got this new fancy new camera to make sure the American people are smoking the right stuff.
  • Could be interesting for Amateur Astronomers?

  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Saturday February 11, 2012 @10:44AM (#39004523) Homepage Journal

    I don't usually complain about the editors; they do a good enough job that the site is still useful by its community and conversation. But in this case I'm making an exception.

    Timothy, did you even click through to the article AT ALL? I did, and it doesn't mention marijuana, cigarettes, or anything similar. The article just says that the camera does chemical composition, and it's not entirely clear that it could even do what's suggested in your summary.

    Can we have a "No Original Research" rule like Wikipedia, please? It's great that you have your theories, editors, and they're completely welcome, but POST THEM AS COMMENTS. The summary spot is supposed to be a summary of the the fine article(s), and not much more; especially not your "educated guesses" presented as fact.

This is a good time to punt work.

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