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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


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The Xylotron: A Field-Deployable Machine-Vision Wood Identification System

The Xylotron uses machine-visioning technology to identify wood species. John Hermanson, USDA Forest Service
The Xylotron uses machine-visioning technology to identify wood species. John Hermanson, USDA Forest Service
Snapshot: The Xylotron is a machine-vision-based wood identification system that uses a custom-designed wood imaging device (the Xyloscope), image analysis, and statistical processing software run from a laptop/netbook. With it, users can identify over 150 species of wood more accurately than trained law enforcement personnel. The technology could help combat the global problem of illegal logging by empowering law enforcement agents to make field identification of wood.

Traditional field-level wood identification can play an important role in combating illegal logging by helping law enforcement officers determine which wood shipments should be detained and submitted for full forensic analysis. Wood identification in general, whether in the field or the laboratory, is based on human-mediated recognition of macroscopic biological patterns in wood. Recognition of biological structures is complex, often subjective, difficult to quantify, and requires costly and intensive training. To objectively quantify the macroscopic biological structure of wood and to eliminate the expensive training of field personnel, Forest Service researchers developed the Xylotron, a machine-vision system using biology-independent signal processing algorithms (wavelets) to form a reference database of woods. This approach removes human subjectivity from the data acquisition process, but requires control over objective factors influencing the image, especially the optical properties of the system. To establish this control, the researchers developed the Xyloscope, a custom-designed system to capture images of wood for the Xylotron. Currently, the Xylotron is able to identify over 150 neotropical woods. The system makes correct identifications with greater than 80 percent accuracy, better than that of trained field agents. Currently the system is a prototype status and is being tested in five other laboratories around the world.
Princpal Investigator(s):
 Wiedenhoeft, Alex C.
 Hermanson, John C.

Research Location:
  • Forest Products Laboratory

External Partners:
  • Dr. Gerald Koch, Thünen Institute, Germany
  • Dr. Hisashi Abe, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Japan
  • Dr. Peter Gasson, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, England
  • Dr. Sandra Florsheim, Instituto Florestal, Brazil
  • Dr. Yafang Yin, Chinese Academy of Forestry, China

Fiscal Year: 2014
Highlight ID: 585
Related Research Emphasis Areas: