Arecont's Fully Motorized Multi-Imager Examined

Author: Brian Karas, Published on Sep 16, 2016

Arecont is taking repositionable mutli-sensor cameras a step further, with a unit where everything is motorized. Not just zoom and focus, but the sensors themselves can be remotely moved as well, making the entire unit reconfigurable without needing a ladder or lift.

This product was shown in what Arecont described as a "technology demonstration", but is expected to come to market in early 2017. In this report, we have an overview of this new design from Arecont.

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Comments (13)

Taking this to a complete motor unit is not the answer. Why do you think PTZ camera sales are not what they used to be in terms of percentage of sales of surveillance cameras. Answer. The wear and tear on motors which causes more failures in the field so more people going to 180's and 360's.

Yeah, but this is just for positioning, not for repositioning. Typically, with panoramic cameras, you're just going to aim the imagers, close it up, and walk away. The motors are just to make it easier, and to help you avoid seams in the image.

I disagree with your statement. PTZ's have 2 major flaws when used as a means to cover an area larger than the standard FOV:

1) You get less than 100% coverage, because you are trying to cover an area wider/larger than what the camera can see in a fixed position. This results in a high probability of missing events, or getting less than ideal images from a constantly panning or stop-and-stare tour.

2) You get premature wear on the motors from having the camera in continuous/near-continuous motion.

This Arecont unit is a "traditional" multi-sensor, with additions to make setup theoretically easier. It is no different than a motorized lens, which I think people generally prefer/desire, it has just added motors to position the sensors as well.

The motors on this will likely be used for less than 1 hour total over the camera's lifespan, similar to the motors on a fixed camera with motorized zoom/focus.

I think the primary make or break factor for this camera will be the price, if the premium for it is less than ~2 hours of labor it should be easy for customers and integrators to justify. If the price premium exceeds potential labor savings and convenience benefits, it will be much harder to sell.

With multi-sensor cameras, our goal as manufacturers is to help integrators understand the merits of "virtual PTZ" vs. mechanical PTZ cameras.

When each sensor is 2.1MP, then the application determines how well this can be achieved. However, with the availability of ultra-high-resolution multi-sensor cameras (i.e. multiple 4K sensors in one housing), the ability to both conduct tours and zoom in for details digitally becomes possible without the wear on motors. PTZs are still very cool to me -- like real-life video games -- and we sell some fast ones. But we hope that with more manufacturers making multi-sensor cameras available, the advantages of moving around the scene digitally becomes more accepted.

You are all pointing out the risks whenever motors are involved in a camera. I agree that the key here is that the motors should rarely be used (i.e. remote focus vs. auto focus).

That said, this camera is trying to make it easier for the installer -- always the goal. But the cost to keep someone off a ladder could be difficult to justify as some of you are pointing out.

And on we go...

Let's say they figure out a way to offer this for only $300 more than their standard manual, fixed offering. Is it going to save 2-3 hours of labor for camera configuration? Probably not, in most installations. Sure, the occasional lift rental, etc. T-hall presets support my case. Those are set and forget installations with very little reason to ever deviate from.

Lets say the value is real-time control. Now we're looking at the need for building specific PTZ like controls into a VMS. With the exception of Exacq, I can't imagine a lot of support for this.

This is not intended for real-time control, so I think the VMS integration concern is not an issue.

One thing to keep in mind on the installation component is the relative skill-level (and pay) of the installer you can use. Theoretically you could have a junior guy mount all the cameras without having to worry about setting FOVs and dialing things in as you go, and then have a more skilled/higher-paid tech spend time doing the FOV adjustments once everything is up and running.

There would be some benefit in cases where the customer decides after seeing the setup that they want to tweak things, but I think most of the savings (if any) will come from the initial setup stage.

I agree that the premium that can be justified for this is going to be somewhat small relative to the manual setup version, with $300 likely being the very top end.

Lets say the value is real-time control. Now we're looking at the need for building specific PTZ like controls into a VMS.

Little value there, as the "pan" speed is slow as molasses.

Do the imagers also rotate?

Not from what I saw.

not even manually?

The camera was mounted ~10' up, you couldn't really see the details of the mounts/movement/etc. It's also very pre-production, so it's possible that could change (but I would not expect it to).

Given that the imagers essentially rotate by moving around the outer track, I'm not sure what additional benefit you would get from being able to rotate them on their individual mounts.

Corridors...?

Oh, THAT rotate. I thought you meant rotate left/right on the gimbal to look left/right in the way your eyes would "rotate".

I don't think it rotates for corridor mode either.

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