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1. (WO2017137837) APPARATUS AND METHOD TO DETECT UPSIDE DOWN EGGS
Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

Claim 1. An apparatus to identify an orientation of each egg of a batch of eggs, comprising:

a heating module comprising an infrared light source configured to expose the batch of eggs to an infrared light and create a hot zone in an air cell of each egg, an imaging module with a thermal camera configured to capture thermal images of the batch of eggs; and

an analyzer module configured to detect the presence of the hot zone in the air cell of each egg from the thermal images and identify the orientation of each egg in said batch of eggs.

Claim 2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the infrared light source comprises an infrared coated lamp that emits shortwave infrared light during an exposure period and at an exposure distance from the batch of eggs.

Claim 3. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the infrared light source comprises a reflector configured to limit heat waste and to direct the shortwave infrared light towards the batch of eggs.

Claim 4. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the exposure period is between 1 and 9 seconds and the exposure distance is between 60mm and 200mm.

Claim 5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the heating module further comprises a screen configured to protect the infrared light source from debris from the batch of eggs.

Claim 6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the screen is transparent to infrared.

Claim 7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the screen is made from a mixture of silica and quartz.

Claim 8. The apparatus of claim 1 , wherein the heating module further comprises a cooling system configured to cool the infrared light source.

Claim 9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the cooling system comprises a fan configured to extract air from the infrared light source and away from the batch of eggs and the imaging module.

Claim 10. An apparatus to identify upside-down eggs of a batch of eggs, comprising:

a heating module configured to expose an air cell in each egg of the batch of eggs to a radiation flux,

an imaging module with a thermal camera configured to capture thermal images of the batch of eggs when said eggs are not exposed to said radiation flux; and

an analyzer module configured to detect the presence of a heated zone in the air cell of each egg from the thermal images and identify upside-down eggs based on said presence of the heated zone.

Claim 11. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the imaging module further comprises an insulated housing to limit heat loss between the batch of eggs and the thermal camera.

Claim 12. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the thermal camera is enclosed in a camera housing configured to protect the thermal camera from external elements.

Claim 13. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein the camera housing is made of heat conductor materials to extract heat from the thermal camera.

Claim 14. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein the camera housing includes a cooling system.

Claim 15. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the analyzer module is configured to perform global and local statistical measurements on the thermal images to detect the hot zone.

Claim 16. A method to identify upside-down eggs from a batch of eggs, comprising: heating the batch of eggs with a radiation source;

generating a hot zone inside an air cell of each egg via the radiation source; stopping said heating of the batch of eggs with said radiation source;

capturing thermal images of the batch of eggs with a thermal camera while said heating of said batch of eggs is stopped;

analyzing the thermal images to detect the presence of the hot zone; and identifying the upside down eggs.

Claim 17. The method of claim 16, wherein said heating of the batch of eggs comprises emitting an infrared light on the batch of eggs during an exposure period, at a nominal power, and from an exposure distance.

Claim 18. The method of claim 17, wherein the exposure period is between 1 and 9 seconds, the nominal power between 1000w and 5000w, and the exposure distance is between 60mm and 200mm.

Claim 19. The method of claim 18, wherein said generating of said heat zone is performed so as to not significantly heat the rest of each egg.

Claim 20. The method of claim 19, wherein said stopping of said heating is performed by moving said eggs away from said radiation source.

Claim 21. The method of Claim 20, wherein said heating, said generating and said capturing are performed while moving said eggs with a conveyor system configured to move said eggs from a location where said eggs are exposed to said radiation source to another location where said eggs are exposed to said thermal camera.

Claim 22. The method of Claim 20, wherein said heating, said generating and said capturing are performed before incubation of said eggs.