THE TRUTH ABOUT FISHEYE DEWARPING™
As most in the video surveillance industry know, traditional video surveillance cameras have an inherent flaw: blind spots.
If a fixed field-of-view camera is pointed left and an incident occurs on the right, then the camera is useless. Could we just double and triple the number of cameras used in every cafeteria and parking lot in order to capture every angle? Sure. But then users are forced to incur extra hardware costs, installation costs, software licensing and added maintenance expenses.
With demand for comprehensive security increasing — while corresponding budgets decrease or stay the same — that is not a practical solution. This is why Sentry360 has made obtaining an affordable, true 360-degree-view a technology that is accessible to the masses. Looking at a pure fisheye image might be a novel perspective but when it comes to a security professional investigating, it becomes something to decipher. A 360° fisheye allows the curved fisheye effect to become corrected (like looking at a normal camera). This process is called Dewarping™- the correction of a fisheye’s perspective view. However, this is only half the battle. Let’s put this into context relative to the current state of the market.
There has been a big boom in the past few years with manufacturers producing cameras with fisheye lenses. The reality is that many of these products came to market to fill a gap in said manufacturer’s product-line, which often times is an imitation and not an innovation. Many in the 360-degree sector believe that all they have to do to achieve full coverage is attach a fisheye lens to an IP video camera and — voila! — full coverage! Not so. If you don’t have the ability to first Dewarp™ then allow full pan-tilt-zoom in live and recorded 360-degree fisheye images, then the result is a product that may be misleading to an end-user.
The majority of these recent entrants to the fisheye market do allow Dewarping™ (through a common DSP chip manufacturer – Ambarella) but with a catch. The user must Dewarp™ the stream in-camera coming into the Video Management System (VMS) which is typically 20-30% of the overall fisheye while leaving 70-80% unrecorded. In order to reduce blind spots, the user can repeat this process adding multiple Dewarped™ streams from the camera (at different angles). But this could, in some cases, increase bandwidth and storage, add software licenses, and increase power consumption from the camera. Throughout this restricted process it eliminates the ability to PTZ the Dewarped™ single stream view in recorded video which should ultimately be the sole purpose for choosing this breed of technology.
The following will help users understand best practices, positioning and applications for this technology with 1 common goal: “Capture the largest amount of information with the least amount of cameras (sensor’s) from a single vantage point.”
The Application — Ceiling Mount With 360° Technology
This is the North, South, East, and West approach — with everything in between. 360° cameras are designed to capture a full half of circle and to be mounted on the ceiling looking straight down so it can capture, record, and reproduce corrected perspective PTZ windows in recorded or live video. The optimization of the Sentry360 Dewarping™ technology reduces the total amount of single field-of-view cameras you will need to cover heavy traffic or open areas within schools, banks, retail, assembly lines, buses, trains, airports and more.
- Mount in a ceiling using a surface mount mini dome or flush-mount (discreet accessory) with a drop ceiling.
- Make a clear decision at what radius image quality you need – detection vs. identification: Results will vary depending on how high the camera is mounted and how far away your subject is away from the camera.
- Plan for evenly distributed lighting: If part of environment is poorly lit, that section of the image will be affected.
- Do not mount the 360 in a corner: This reduces its effective coverage. Ensure the camera is mounted in intersections or heavy traffic areas in open spaces.
- Do not expect because it’s a 5MP sensor that a Dewarped section will be that same resolution. A single Dewarped view can be (depending on what native resolution of the camera) VGA or less depending on how much the user digitally zooms.
The Application — Wall Mount with 180°
This is taking the fisheye and wall mounting it for a desired 180° viewing angle (east to west). As opposed to stitching multiple sensors for this application, the fisheye is displayed in 1 full panoramic view in your VMS of choice. Users can then digitally zoom into this view for a more detailed perspective. Because of the use of a fisheye, and to minimize distortion, we section off the best portions of the image for display and eliminate the unimportant sections such as the sky, for example. The panoramic view is intended to be an overview shot and will provide users a camera reduction solution with a single installation point. Applications include sides of buildings and parking lots, retail checkout counters, stairwells, hallways (T intersections), bus/train platforms (vehicles) and more.
- Ensure the 180 is mounted in the middle of the environment centralizing its perspective view to evenly distribute the image quality throughout the panoramic image.
- Make a clear decision on what mounting height as this effects the overall pixel density of the image.
- For higher mounting, ensure the 180 has the ability to point downward (either with the outdoor housing or mini-dome lens gimbal) as not to record unnecessary information such as clouds or ceiling.
- Mount the camera where large obstructions can cause blind-spots.
- Use this as a replacement for optically zoomed PTZ for license plate capture. The 180° panoramic view is designed to be an overview scene.
The Application — Table, Counter, Floor and Vehicle 360° Technology
This is utilizing the 360° with a completely different algorithm we’ve named InVerted360°™ and could call for applications users haven’t been thinking about. When mounting the camera on a surface (table, counter or floor) looking up it changes the perspective. In a conference room you can navigate to the speaker or presenter and interact with others in the meeting room while being on a remote connection. In a retail or cash counting application this gives users a closer more interactive perspective mounting or embedding the camera in the counter. It even has applications in gaming tables for blackjack or poker to have a table level perspective of the full interaction between players and dealers.
To deliver the full functionality of 360° fisheye technology, Sentry360 has developed an SDK (Software Development Kit) customized for Video Software Management (VMS) developers and Network Video Recorder (NVR) manufacturers. IP video surveillance has evolved into an ecosystem allowing the users to choose best-in-breed technologies to create a full, customized solution for the end-user based on their application. Over the years we were forced to adapt our SDK to work within a variety of different software environments, languages and operating systems. To date, we feel our SDK is the most integrated, flexible and customizable enabling the future of this technology to not be limited. We boast that our SDK works with any OS (operating system), software platform/language, and is ready to scale with any resolution as fisheye lenses improve and Ultra-HD becomes more common place.
The Sentry360 SDK has given security providers the tools necessary to record and display the full 360° view (fisheye) image in live or playback and correct the view for a full retrospective Pan-Tilt-Zoom in ALL directions. The point of 360° is to enable the PTZ experience with the ability of hindsight in full 360 degrees, all the while providing full situational awareness.
With nearly 30 technology integrations to date, Sentry360 has laid the ground work to optimize the future of this technology and has laid a path for future quality improvements for scaling in resolution, compression, and opening the door to new applications.