First Gigapixel Surveillance Camera Examined (ipConfigure)

Published Aug 10, 2011 00:00 AM
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In this note, we examine the features, pricing and positioning of the first gigapixel surveillance camera ever released. This offering is from ipConfigure and is called the GWAS or Gigapixel Wide Area Surveillance [link no longer available].

Gigapixel Overview

Gigapixel photography has gained significant mainstream interest. Gigapixel offers a massive amount of resolution and is pretty amazing to view. (See for yourself by scanning through this gigapixel image gallery.) As its name implies, gigapixel images deliver 1000 times the resolution as a megapixel camera (1 Billion+ pixels). To do so, a camera moves across a scene capturing areas piece by piece and then stitches that into a single image. The clear upside is that you now have massive resolution displayed in a single image. The most obvious downside is that it takes time to move a camera across a wide field of view, resulting in image generation latency and ghosting affects (where a subject is only partially captured - see sample ghosting image).

ipConfigure's Gigapixel Offering

Let's review the specifics of ipConfigure's gigapixel offering [link no longer available]:

  • Like photography, ipConfigure takes the same basic approach for creating a gigapixel camera - a moving camera scans an area and creates an image.
  • Unlike photography, the ipConfigure offering uses an integrated turret Pan/Tilt system common for surveillance applications. It also offers 3 options: a base unit, a unit including thermal and a unit with a dual scanning imagers. The picture below provides a visual overview of the options:
  • The user can define areas for the camera to scan. Sample patterns include 270 degrees by 30 degrees and 93 x 30 degrees. 
  • ipConfigure estimates that a complete scan takes about 70 seconds for the former and the 24 seconds for the latter. If the unit with dual scanning imagers (on the right) is used, the time can be cut in half. Either way, this is not a real time surveillance camera and users should expect 1 image per X number of seconds.
  • The camera requires a server for processing / stiching the image.
  • Only ipConfigure's own VMS [link no longer available] supports the camera. A future API will allow third party systems integrate with ipConfigure VMS as a whole but not the camera directly.
  • Cost: The MSRP for the base unit is $95,000 USD; with Thermal, the MSRP is $145,000 USD and the Dual Array with thermal is $299,000 USD. A future version with a less expensive IP camera will cost significantly less.

Applications and Positioning

Since we have never used a gigapixel surveillance camera, we are limited in our observations. However, there are a few key structural points that clearly deserve consideration:

  • Price: At its price, this is almost certainly a device for critical infrastructure - sites with clear risks and million dollar budgets to spend on surveillance. You would not likely need a lot of these cameras per site but the starting price constraints potential buyers. On the other hand, for those with real security risks, this could be a very powerful overview shot - likely more useful than a 3D map and at a similar costs.
  • Latency: Users must have the right expectations on how they use this camera. If they expect to zoom in and seeing a suspect running or driving through in real time, they will be quite disappointed. Using it more like a massive resolution time lapse photograph could work well. Also, using it to orient oneself and then use a PTZ for tracking can also be helpful.
  • 3rd Party Restrictions: Since you have to use ipConfigure's VMS (or in the future integrate their VMS into your PSIM), this limits who can use it without switching to ipConfigure.

This noted, just like the Dallmeier Panomera that generated significant interest, we expect there to be many inquires into this product because it is unique and offers unmatched total resolution.