From the Product Manager's POV
- By Frank Abram
- Sep 13, 2007
TECHNOLOGY doesn’t come cheap, but when it makes its debut, much can be said about the impact. The same is true for Pan-Focus technology and its ability to view every object in the camera’s field of view. We wanted to know more, so talked with Sanyo vice president and general manager Frank Abram.
Q: What would you say is the biggest single technology breakthrough for Sanyo in the last year and why?
A: This year, Sanyo developed a new imaging technology called Pan-Focus, which allows video surveillance cameras to focus on every object in the camera’s field of view, no matter how close or far away they are from the camera. In addition to the improved identification capabilities afforded by the vastly expanded depth of field, with Pan-Focus, no manual focus adjustments are required, allowing these cameras to provide extended coverage compared to typical cameras, especially in unsupervised system applications.
We see this as an industry breakthrough, as it allows high-resolution imaging with a large depth of field for video surveillance applications. Development of deep focusing techniques and unique digital signal processing (DSP) capability in the camera itself make it possible for us to take the original image provided by the lens and apply sharp focus to every object in the frame. This innovative integration between the lens and the camera provides Sanyo's Pan-Focus cameras with high resolution and extreme depth of field.
Q: How does Pan-Focus compare to other imaging technologies in terms of benefits to the security industry?
A: Particularly for security applications, we felt we could improve on the traditional varifocal lens. For example, with a varifocal lens, objects in front of and behind the main focus point appear blurred. Pan-Focus compensates for this problem, keeping all objects in focus no matter how close or far away they are from the camera. Clearly, this is a benefit to the security market because now sharper images of more expansive coverage areas can be produced, often eliminating the need to cross-shoot multiple cameras.
Additionally, while there is no need for manual-focus adjustments with Pan-Focus technology to attain uniform focus of a scene, it is still possible to remotely zoom in on specific objects in the frame to capture a specific ID shot. Some units have an integrated PTZ mechanism; for other cameras, there is an optional camera control unit to operate the remote zoom feature. With all objects in focus, it becomes easier for security personnel to monitor images and identify situations that require action. It also makes identifying people, vehicles and other objects within a scene easier. Another advantage is, given their expanded coverage capabilities, one Pan-Focus camera can often replace multiple cameras, thus reducing initial system costs and long-term cost of ownership.
Q: How will this new technology impact the security industry?
A: The most significant impact of this line of cameras goes beyond the advantages brought by Pan-Focus technology. For some time, we have been incorporating IP-capable technology into every one of our cameras. There is a large, growing pool of cameras in security deployments being used as part of analog systems, but they are ready to go IP at any time with minimal installer involvement. The future of this industry will be found in alignment with IT operations, and we have made certain that every customer is ready to make the switch with ease at any time. Pan-Focus cameras carry through this philosophy in concrete fashion, so every Pan-Focus camera installation can become an IP installation whenever the user is ready to go IP.
A benefit of Pan-Focus that relates specifically to IP technology is the elimination of typical network image delay due to time lag when focus adjustments are made. Since cameras incorporating Pan Focus technology require no focus adjustment, this issue becomes moot, and overall safety and security are enhanced in real time.
Q: Considering the security industry as a whole, who benefits the most from the implementation of Pan-Focus technology?
A: While the benefits to the end user are clear, we believe installers and integrators also will benefit from Pan-Focus technology. Since there is no need for focus adjustments, installation time is reduced. Field of view is quickly set and can easily be fine-tuned to the user's preferences from the head end after the camera is installed. Lower installation costs are advantages that come back to the end user once again.
Even with the increased amount of information coming from images where every object is in focus with a larger depth of field, video signals from Pan-Focus cameras do not require any change to existing DVR/NVR systems and will not affect image file sizes, so more storage is not needed.
It's definitely part of our mission to offer new technologies that improve business operations not only for the user, but also for the dealer. Our dealers are important assets to us, and it is as important for our advancements to support them as the end user.
Q: How does Pan-Focus imaging work with video analytics technology?
A: The two technologies complement each other with the end result of better security, which should always be the ultimate goal of any advancement in this industry. There is no point in developing new technologies simply for the sake of creating more complex products. Video analytics is one of the biggest developments in surveillance today, but typical lenses have a shallow depth of field that doesn’t allow them to offer useful images outside certain areas of a scene. With its greatly enhanced depth of field, Pan-Focus technology provides video analytics with a more detailed canvas area, resulting in enhanced functionality versus systems with typical cameras.
Q: Which Sanyo cameras will incorporate Pan-Focus technology?
A. The first Pan-Focus models introduced were our indoor mini dome, vandal-resistant dome and weatherproof camera configurations. Our intention is to release, over time, a full line of products to replace the current models in our line. Since Pan-Focus offers so many benefits, there is virtually no application in which it would not be an improvement for the user.