Why Multi-Sensor Cameras Are Trending for Mainstream Applications
Multi-sensor cameras are the hot trend in today’s surveillance market with growth rates surpassing conventional camera form factors.
- By Kevin Saldanha
- Aug 17, 2017
Multi-sensor cameras are the hot trend in today’s surveillance market with growth rates surpassing conventional camera form factors. Why? Because they can dramatically improve wide area surveillance coverage with excellent detail. By providing excellent quality images that are seamlessly stitched to deliver panoramic views that virtually put viewers into the scene, a single multi-sensor camera can replace multiple single-sensor cameras and significantly reduce costs related to equipment acquisition, installation and infrastructure.
Multi-sensor cameras solve many surveillance challenges for security professionals with high degrees of efficiency. The following are four ways this is achieved:
System Design Best Practices
Good system design makes system management easier and more efficient for the user, and installation easier for the technician, but it’s a task easier said than done when multiple cameras are involved. The planning process for a large/medium size installation can be complicated in terms of cabling, networking, integration, monitoring and other installation requirements, and one of the benefits of a multi-sensor camera is that it can help simplify the design/build process while applying multiple best practices to enhance wide area coverage and minimize equipment costs.
When implementing multi-sensor cameras, fewer cameras are typically required to cover specific areas. The addition of multi-sensor cameras to a design can also be used to complement existing single-sensor and PTZ surveillance cameras, providing a more comprehensive surveillance plan with increased coverage that greatly reduces gaps.
Multi-sensor cameras that also feature Smart Compression technology can lower bandwidth and storage capacity design requirements while preserving image quality. With Variable Group of Pictures (GOP) technology, an added feature included with leading multi-sensor surveillance solutions, the number of I-frames are automatically reduced in scenes with minimal motion. Based on the complexity of scenes and the amount of motion occurring, such as in a storage room that has limited activity, up to 70 percent bandwidth savings can be achieved. In scenes with more motion, band savings of one-third can be achieved, which can significantly reduce storage costs.
Improvements in wide dynamic range (WDR) technology that maximize the amount of detail in both bright and dark areas of a scene have ensured that quality images can be captured in even the most challenging conditions. Each sensor in a multi-sensor camera can be optimized for a section of the field of view enabling a wider dynamic range across the whole field of view. Advanced multi-sensor cameras can also seamlessly stitch together the individual video images captured from each of its imaging sensors, creating a larger, single, seamless video stream image that can be easily viewed in panoramic mode. Because these cameras use conventional lensing which has uniformity of resolution across the entire image, they provide enhanced detail at a distance compared to fisheye cameras.
Additional enhancements designed to improve image quality include advanced low light performance with full color perception down to 0.2 lux, anti-bloom technology to accommodate for bright light sources such as headlights, 3D noise filtering to further reduce bandwidth and increase clarity, and enhanced tone mapping for extreme color accuracy across the panorama. High quality fixed lenses that are factory aligned can provide worry free operation without further manual adjustment.
Performance features that additionally help ensure image quality include a frame rate of up to 12.5 frames per second (fps) at full resolution or 30 fps at a reduced resolution. Given their high-quality imaging and capability to handle challenging lighting conditions and large coverage areas, multi-sensor cameras are ideal for a wide range of applications that need detailed surveillance.
Total Cost of Ownership
The use of multi-sensor cameras in a design/build application opens the door for a number of cost-saving benefits. As mentioned, a single multi-sensor camera provides the same detailed coverage that typically would require multiple single-sensor cameras or a more expensive PTZ camera, which can only focus on one area at a time and could be pointed the wrong way during an incident. A multi-sensor camera deployed in the center of a parking lot, for instance, can provide 360-degree area coverage with excellent image quality – using just one camera, one pole mount, and one cable connection. Fewer cameras result in lower overall system cost because fewer network switches are required and only one VMS license is needed versus having to purchase multiple licenses for separate cameras. Again, because of the fewer number of cameras required, cabling, power and overall installation costs can be reduced.
Control room costs and efficiencies can also be better controlled when multi-sensor cameras are included in a surveillance system. With fewer cameras to monitor, fewer display devices are needed, and coverage of larger areas by the multi-sensor cameras can be displayed on these monitors. Going further, many security operators are limited by the number of traditional PTZ cameras they can oversee, so the use of a multi-sensor camera allows these operators to effectively view significantly wider areas, improving their ability to view multiple areas of interest.
Rich Feature Set
Today’s multi-sensor cameras deliver the superior situational awareness needed for critical video surveillance applications. Included in the feature set is high resolution imaging that allows operators to zoom in for excellent detail or to more clearly see objects or people at greater distances. When accompanied by de-warping at the VMS, the intuitive electronic ‘pan, tilt and zoom’ enable simultaneous, immersive viewing of specific areas within the scene in live and forensic (recorded) operation without distortion.
Industry leading multi-sensor cameras are preloaded with advanced analytics including abandoned object, intrusion detection, camera sabotage, wrong direction, loitering detection, object counting, object removal, and stopped vehicle. Plus, automated real-time intervention and post-incident video investigation are possible with features like forensic zooming, region of interest viewing, image cropping, motion detection, and panoramic views.
For these reasons and more, multi-sensor cameras are ideal for a wide range of mainstream surveillance and vertical market applications. In casinos for example, multi-sensor cameras can provide detailed coverage of all currency and chip denomination exchanges and to fill gaps in coverage between the pools of coverage they have with fixed and PTZ cameras. When applied for city surveillance, multi-sensor cameras provide full coverage of intersections where multiple cameras would otherwise need to be deployed. The same wide area coverage benefits apply to retail cash registers and surrounding display areas typically reserved for small, easily concealed impulse purchase items, as well as for corrections facilities with multiple cellblocks, recreation areas and common areas.
When evaluating system design, image quality, TCO and feature sets – today’s advanced multi-sensor cameras offer multiple advantages. Specifically, they offer a highly effective imaging solution that greatly improves situational awareness and cost efficiencies. It’s no wonder that multi-sensor cameras continue to be the hot trending imaging solution in the surveillance industry today.