DHS-Designed Camera Employs Image Stitching Technology To Provide 100 Megapixel Resolution

 

Traditional surveillance cameras can be of great assistance to law enforcement officers for a range of scenarios -- canvassing a crowd for criminal activity, searching for who left a suitcase beneath a bench, or trying to pick out a suspect who has fled a crime scene and blended into a teeming throng in the subway.

But there are shortfalls. For starters, once they zoom in on a specific point of interest, they lose visual contact with the rest of the scene.

Now, a new video surveillance system currently being developed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) may soon give law enforcement an extra set of eyes. The Imaging System for Immersive Surveillance (or ISIS) takes new video camera and image-stitching technology and bolts it to a ceiling, mounts it on a roof, or fastens it to a truck-mounted telescoping mast.

Like a bug-eyed fisheye lens, ISIS sees v-e-r-y wide. But that’s where the similarity ends. Whereas a typical fisheye lens distorts the image and can only provide limited resolution, video from ISIS is perfectly detailed, edge-to-edge. That’s because the video is made from a series of individual cameras stitched into a single, live view -- like a high-res video quilt.

“Coverage this sweeping, with detail this fine, requires a very high pixel count,” said program manager Dr. John Fortune, of S&T’s Infrastructure and Geophysical Division, “ISIS has a resolution capability of 100 megapixels.”

That’s as detailed as 50 full-HDTV movies playing at once, with optical detail to spare. You can zoom in close…and closer…without losing clarity.

The stitching together of several images isn’t exactly cutting-edge magic. For years, creative photographers have used low-cost stitching software to create breathtaking high-res images (like that famous image of the National Mall from Inauguration Day 2009). But those are still images, created days or weeks after a scene was shot. ISIS is quilting video -- in real time. And, a unique interface allows maintenance of the full field of view, while a focal point of choice can be magnified.

Other tricks -- many of which are commercially available -- will be provided by a suite of software applications called video analytics. One app can define a sacrosanct “exclusion zone,” for which ISIS provides an alert the moment it’s breached.

Another lets the operator pick a target -- a person, a package, or a pickup truck -- and the detailed viewing window will tag it and follow it, automatically panning and tilting as needed. Video analytics at high resolution across a 360-degree field of view, coupled with the ability to follow objects against a cluttered background, would provide enhanced situational awareness as an incident unfolds.

In the event that a terrorist attack occurs, forensic investigators can pore over the most recent video, using pan, zoom, and tilt controls to reconstruct who did what and when. Because these controls are virtual, different regions of a crime scene can feasibly be studied by separate investigative teams simultaneously.

Many of the ISIS capabilities were adapted from technology previously developed by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory for military applications. With the help of technology experts from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Lincoln Laboratory has built the current system with commercial off-the-shelf cameras, computers, image processing boards and software.

ISIS creators already have their eyes on a new and improved second generation model, complete with custom sensors and video boards, longer range cameras, higher resolution, a more efficient video format, and a discreet, chandelier-like frame -- no bigger than a basketball. Eventually, the Department plans to develop a version of ISIS that will use infrared cameras to detect events that occur at night.

S&T formed a partnership with the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), and in December 2009, began an ISIS pilot at Logan International Airport, allowing potential Homeland Security end users the opportunity to evaluate the technology. Beyond the potential for enhancing security at our nation’s airports, if successful, the current testing at Logan could pave the way for the eventual deployment of ISIS to protect other critical venues.

That’s a good thing, says S&T’s Fortune.

“We’ve seen that terrorists are determined to do us harm, and ISIS is a great example of one way we can improve our security by leveraging our strengths,” he said.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Making Safety and Security Intrinsic to School Design

    Public anxieties about school safety are escalating across the country. According to a 2023 Gallup report, 44% of parents fear for their child’s physical safety at school, a 10 percentage-point increase since 2019. Unfortunately, these fears are likely to increase if the incidence of school tragedies continues to mount. As a result, school leaders are now charged with two non-negotiable responsibilities. The first, as always, is to ensure kids have what they need to learn, grow, and thrive. Sadly, their second responsibility is to keep the children in their care safe from threats and physical danger. Read Now

  • The Power of a Layered Approach to Safety

    In a perfect world, every school would have an unlimited budget to help secure their schools. In reality, schools must prioritize what budget they have while navigating the complexities surrounding school security and lockdown. Read Now

  • How a Security System Can Enhance Arena Safety and the Fan Experience

    Ensuring guests have both a memorable experience and a safe one is no small feat for your physical security team. Stadiums, ballparks, arenas, and other large event venues are increasingly leveraging new technologies to transform the fan experience and maintain a high level of security. The goal is to preserve the integrity and excitement of the event while enhancing security and remaining “behind the scenes.” Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • Camden CV-7600 High Security Card Readers

    Camden CV-7600 High Security Card Readers

    Camden Door Controls has relaunched its CV-7600 card readers in response to growing market demand for a more secure alternative to standard proximity credentials that can be easily cloned. CV-7600 readers support MIFARE DESFire EV1 & EV2 encryption technology credentials, making them virtually clone-proof and highly secure. 3

  • PE80 Series

    PE80 Series by SARGENT / ED4000/PED5000 Series by Corbin Russwin

    ASSA ABLOY, a global leader in access solutions, has announced the launch of two next generation exit devices from long-standing leaders in the premium exit device market: the PE80 Series by SARGENT and the PED4000/PED5000 Series by Corbin Russwin. These new exit devices boast industry-first features that are specifically designed to provide enhanced safety, security and convenience, setting new standards for exit solutions. The SARGENT PE80 and Corbin Russwin PED4000/PED5000 Series exit devices are engineered to meet the ever-evolving needs of modern buildings. Featuring the high strength, security and durability that ASSA ABLOY is known for, the new exit devices deliver several innovative, industry-first features in addition to elegant design finishes for every opening. 3

  • AC Nio

    AC Nio

    Aiphone, a leading international manufacturer of intercom, access control, and emergency communication products, has introduced the AC Nio, its access control management software, an important addition to its new line of access control solutions. 3