This summer I had the honor to be invited to an unusual near-infrared spectroscopy conference, ICNIRS 2017, in Copenhagen.
The theme of the conference was “NIR Spectroscopy at work in industry”. The scientific program included 8 topics: Chemometrics; Dairy and Food; Pharma and Biotech; Water, Soil and Environment; PAT; Agriculture; Theory and Instrumentation; Hyperspectral Imaging. Not my kind of applications.
There I learned how NIRS can be used to assess food quality. I listened to very interesting talks about a variety of very sophisticated spectroscopy methods. The closest to the medical field was how NIRS technology can be used for rapid and non-destructive detection and grading of wooden breast syndrome in chicken breast fillet while they are passing through a conveyor belt. At the exhibit I watched a NIRS system scan coffee beans while roasting and differentiate between dark, medium, and light roasts. I was very impressed and fascinated by the many creative uses of NIRS.
The International Committee for Near Infrared Spectroscopy (ICNIRS) is an established society, founded in 1996, which uses NIRS in agriculture and food industry. It runs a conference every other year and the one I attended included about 500 participants from all over the world. The society has a journal, Journal of Near Infrared Spectroscopy, and some of us, less naïve than me, have had contacts with this society.
While the topics and applications may be very different from our medical applications, there is some overlap on technology and data analysis, and possible collaboration may be beneficial for both. Find out about ICNIRS members in your university and if the next conference is near you, I encourage you to go.