Earthcam GigapixelCam

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Aug 28, 2012

Gigapixel surveillance continues to gain interest, due in no small part to its "wow" factor and extreme resolution. Webcam provider EarthCam is the latest entrant to this space with their aptly-named GigapixelCam. In this update we overview the features and functions of this new model, and how it compares to other gigapixel/high-megapixel offerings from ipConfigure and Sony.

Overview

The GigapixelCam is similar to EarthCam's other robotic camera offerings, an outdoor PTZ camera system with the following features:GigapixelCam

  • Outdoor pan/tilt/zoom positioner system, 360º pan range, 120º tilt range.
  • 16.2MP Nikon digital camera (4928x3264 resolution)
  • 18mm-55mm (3x zoom) Nikon DX format lens
  • Motion JPEG streaming, with 720x480 live video preview
  • Solar power and wireless options available.
  • Compatible only with EarthCam's own video management and jobsite documentation software, with no third-party integration.

Users may see our overview of EarthCam for more information on their standard features, such as video management, hosting, and jobsite documentation services.

The GigapixelCam has an MSRP of about $18,000 USD and is available for ordering now.

Panorama Framerate

The fastest rate at which a panorama is generated is once per 15 minutes (.0011 FPS). This panorama is stitched together from JPEG images, the quantity of which varies depending on how wide or tall the area being covered is. Unlike some of EarthCam's other models, which may be used for both jobsite documentation and surveillance, this framerate makes the GigapixelCam unsuitable for security purposes. For documentation of construction projects, however, a full image is generally only stored a few times per day, to show progress of the site.

Competitive Comparison

Since the GigapixelCam is not intended for security use, but instead for jobsite documentation, it is lacking in features seen in other robotic systems of this type, such as ipConfigure's Gigapixel Wide Area Surveillance system or Sony's XIs. Both ipConfigure and Sony offer dual-camera and thermal camera options, with a framerate well beyond EarthCam's (~12-70 seconds per panorama for ipConfigure and 15-75 for Sony, depending on field of view), albeit still low for most surveillance applications. The GigapixelCam also differs from these options in that they are both tied to fixed panorama configurations consisting of "grids" of images in various horizontal and vertical fields of view. The GigapixelCam's FOV is variable, instead, and may be as wide or narrow as necessary.

Comparing price, both of these other options are far more expensive than EarthCam's offering. The GWAS system starts at $95,000 USD MSRP, and ranges up to $300,000 for dual-camera thermal versions. Sony's XIs is sold as a custom solution, so pricing varies widely, but is often in the $500k-$1M range. This makes EarthCam much less costly, though obviously suited for a different purpose, with fewer features, options, speed, and functionality.

On the plus side, it is 80% less expensive than anything else out there. On the negative side, its frame rate is 15 times slower than rivals. With such a low frame rate, it is hard to see how it could be useful for surveillance but with such a relatively low price point, it might be an interesting add on for higher end projects.

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