The use of liquid-crystal panels from a commercially available Sanyo video projector as spatial light modulators in a standard joint transform correlator system is investigated. It is found that the flatness distortion of the panels disturbs the output correlation signal in general. Since the reported solutions for the flatness corrections are either expensive (liquid gates) or suffer from low light efficiency (holographic techniques), we have investigated a possibility to minimize the influence of these distortions on the correlation output without flatness correction. First, we quantify optical flatness across the transparent panel area, and then we measure the effects of flatness distortion by changing the display location of the input objects and the resulting joint power spectrum. It is found that the correlation peak is 1 order of magnitude more sensitive to phase distortions of the input scene than to the same distortions of the joint power spectrum. Choosing the flattest location on the panel allows the utilization of the panels to be demonstrated through recognition of cuneiform inscription signs.
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