New surveillance technology:Q&A with Roland Meier, Dallmeier

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Roland Meier, Team Leader Panomera® Multifocal Sensor Systems Dallmeier

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Video technology has become an indispensable element of the security arrangements at ports. German developer and manufacturer Dallmeier has unveiled a new approach to video surveillance of large areas: the Panomera® multifocal sensor system.

Mr. Meier, what is new about the Panomera® system?

With the Panomera® multifocal sensor system, a huge area can be monitored from a single location extremely efficiently. The most impressive aspect of the product is that it combines the overall view with simultaneous top detail resolution. Even distant objects are displayed with the same resolution as objects in the foreground of the picture. The entire area observed by the camera should be displayed in uniformly high quality. But anyone who has ever zoomed in on an image will notice a marked difference: the farther you zoom into the picture, the greater the loss of detail, causing the picture to become blurry. While objects in the foreground are certainly displayed with sufficient resolution, when the user attempts to enlarge objects from the background, they appear as so many ill-defined blocks. This is why when we developed the Panomera®; one of our objectives was to ensure that the resolution never fell below the specified parameters, not even in the most distant areas of the image.

How is this high resolution possible?

We are using a completely new lens and sensor concept. In conventional cameras, the pixels are used uniformly within the sensor, that is to say, the available megapixels are distributed evenly throughout the entire image. But the actual scene is not two dimensional like the sensor, it is three dimensional; the expanse of the lateral and depth perspectives becomes progressively larger the farther back you go. If the pixels are distributed evenly on the camera sensor, this means that the same number of pixels is available for capturing a much larger area than in the foreground of the image. And logically, as a result, more distant objects cannot be resolved any more when you zoom in. With Panomera®, we do not use just a single optical device, but a multifocal sensor system, meaning several lenses with different focal lengths. In this way, we “slice up” the scene so that each area has the optimum focal length assigned to it.

What advantages does this have for monitoring ports?

Panomera® works well both for very wide panoramas and for areas involving great distances. In effect, it is as if you were to combine the advantages of an overview camera and a high optical zoom PTZ camera. Panomera® records the entire area continuously, like an overview camera – unlike a PTZ camera for example, with which only the currently active zoom area is recorded. But at the same time you can move and zoom anywhere in the entire coverage area – and individuals are clearly recognisable even at distances of more than 160 meters.

Until now continuous recording of the entire surveillance area was not standard practice. Of course, fixed dome or box cameras always record the whole of the area they are monitoring. But these cameras are not equipped with an optical zoom, so they are not suitable for monitoring expansive areas, or at least only as overview cameras. This is why a lot of PTZ cameras are being used at the moment. These can be used to zoom and move within the scenes. But at the same time, PTZ cameras have a definite disadvantage: they can only ever record the area that the operator is currently watching live. If the operator is currently zooming in on the front left portion of the image, only this area is being recorded. So if an incident were to take place at a different location at the same time, it would not be possible to review it afterwards. With Panomera®, on the other hand, the entire scene is recorded continuously and in maximum detail resolution – regardless of which area the operator is viewing live. This makes it possible to analyze incidents after they have occurred.

 

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