Science

Three-camera system lets users better "zoom in" on 360-degree video

Three-camera system lets users...
The experimental system features a 360-degree camera flanked by convention pan/tilt HD cameras
The experimental system features a 360-degree camera flanked by convention pan/tilt HD cameras
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The experimental system features a 360-degree camera flanked by convention pan/tilt HD cameras
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The experimental system features a 360-degree camera flanked by convention pan/tilt HD cameras

While 360-degree security cameras are great for imaging a wide area, they're not so great when you want to zoom in on something that looks suspicious. A new setup addresses that problem, by combining three cameras in one system.

Currently in development at Japan's Shibaura Institute of Technology, the experimental system incorporates a central Ricoh Theta S panoramic camera, along with two conventional HD cameras located to either side.

The Ricoh utilizes two 180-degree lenses – one on the front and one on the back – the output of which is digitally stitched together to give it a 360-degree field of view. The other two cameras complement the Ricoh by being pointed in opposite directions, so one is facing approximately the same direction as the Ricoh's front lens, while the other is pointing the same direction as the rear lens.

If the 360-degree camera were being used on its own, and someone wanted to zoom in on a detail in its shot, the resulting image wouldn't be very good. This is due to the fact that because its field of view is so wide, the picture would get quite pixelated and distorted if any one part of it was significantly isolated and enlarged.

The Shibaura system gets around this problem via the extra two cameras.

When an item of interest is identified in the Ricoh's shot, its location is transmitted to a Raspberry Pi microcomputer in the camera system – that computer in turn controls a servo that pans and/or tilts the relevant HD camera, so that its shot is centered on a close-up of the targeted item. Users of the system can then simply switch from the Ricoh's shot to that of the HD camera.

A paper on the research, which is being led by Dr. Chinthaka Premachandra and Masaya Tamaki, was recently published in IEEE Sensors Journal.

Source: Shibaura Institute of Technology

1 comment
1 comment
Catweazle
Interesting...
Many years ago I was playing with an early digital camera and a spherical silver Christmas tree ornament to make a 360 degree panoramic camera, the spherical distortion being easy to compensate for in software.
Unfortunately, the low resolution of the available cameras was insufficient to make it useful.