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1. (WO1998052087) VIEWING APPARATUS
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CLAIMS
1. Viewing apparatus operative to transpose the views of an object or object part seen from a number of different viewpoints into a single two-dimensional representation comprising a support structure to which is secured a plurality of reflectors disposed about a viewing space in the apparatus, one or more cameras or other detection devices disposed to receive optical information from the object or object part in the viewing space by light reflected from the reflectors, and placement means adapted to move the support structure to and from a position in which the object or object part is contained within said viewing space.
2. Viewing apparatus as claimed in Claim 1 including one or more light sources to give artificial illumination of the object or object parts in the viewing space.
3. Viewing apparatus as claimed in Claim 2 in which the or each light source comprises a light guide encircling the viewing space and illuminated by one or more light emitting diodes or filament lamps or the like.
4. Viewing apparatus as claimed in Claim 2 in which illumination of the object or object part is provided by use of a beam-splitting combiner located between the reflectors and the detection device(s) so that light from the or each light source is directed to the teat using the same reflective elements as the reflected light that is returned to the detection device(s).
5. Viewing apparatus as claimed in Claim 4 in which the component of source light that passes through the beam splitting combiner is held in an optical trap.
6. Viewing apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim in which examination of the teat or other object contained within the viewing space of the apparatus is enhanced by means illuminating the object with different optical wavebands and measuring them independently.
7. Viewing apparatus as claimed in Claim 6 in which the illumination means comprises a broad band source operating over a wide wavelength range.
8. Apparatus as claimed in Claim 7 including interference filters to enable the detection device(s) to take independent information in different optical wavebands.

9. Viewing apparatus as claimed in Claim 6 in which the illumination means includes some means of varying the wavelength of a single light source to provide different detection parameters.
10. Viewing apparatus as claimed in Claim 9 in which the wavelength-varying means comprises one or more interference filters which allows the detection device to take independent information in different optical wavebands.
11. Viewing apparatus as claimed in Claim 6 in which the illumination means includes two different light sources operating at different wavelengths.
12. Viewing apparatus as claimed in Claim 11 in which the light sources are laser sources.
13. Viewing apparatus as claimed in any of Claims 6 to 12 in which the means for measuring the wavebands independently comprises one or more beam-splitters to split the returned light into different paths.
14. Viewing apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim in which the one or more detection devices are secured to the support structure so as to move with the reflectors during the introduction and removal of the object or object part in the viewing space.

15. Viewing apparatus as claimed in any of Claims 1 to 14 in which the detection device(s) are mounted independently of the support structure.
16. Viewing apparatus as claimed in Claim 15 in which the light from the reflectors is transmitted down the robot arm using coherent fibre optic bundles to a camera or other detector located externally of the arm.
17. Viewing apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim when intended for use in teat examination, including a cleaning mechanism whereby the detection device(s) and any object-illuminating lighting system are kept clean either during the inspection cycle, or cleaned between cycles.
18. Viewing apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim in which the viewing space lies along an axis of the apparatus and at least some of the reflectors are disposed radially about said axis so as to surround an object or object part contained in the viewing space.
19. Viewing apparatus as claimed in any of Claims 1 to 18 in which one or more of the reflectors are axially spaced from the viewing space so as to provide an end view of an object or object part contained in the viewing space.
20. Viewing apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim in which the reflectors consist of mirrors.
21. Viewing apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim in which the support structure for the reflectors is mounted with a teat cup holder at the distal end of a same "wrist action" sub-assembly or robot arm acting as the placement means.
22. Viewing apparatus as claimed in Claim 21 in which both the teat cup holder and the detector(s) pivot about the same inclined "wrist" axis in such a way that the robot arm is operable to locate the teat initially and apply the support structure over the teat whilst the teat cup holder carries the teat cup still in the inverted position, whereby, after the inspection stage and assuming the teat is deemed to be both clean and healthy, the entire head is pivoted about the wrist axis of the robot and the robot arm then drives the now inverted and correctly orientated teat cup, onto the teat.
23. Viewing apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim combined with an air sampling device thereby to allow assessment of an animal's health and the detection of disease or defects on its udder.
24. Viewing apparatus as claimed in Claim 23 including means for combining the signals from one or both the detection systems present and processing them through a predictive algorithm to give an overall assessment of the animal's health.
25. Viewing apparatus substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to and/or illustrated in the accompanying drawings.