License Plate Recognition (LPR) Providers OverviewBy Ethan Ace, Published Oct 09, 2012, 12:00am EDT
License Plate Recognition is the most successful of all video analytic systems (sure, faint praise but still). In this note, we overview 8 different LPR providers from around the world and provide guidance on the use of 'regular' cameras vs purposed built LPR ones.
LPR Provider Overview
The following is a selection of some of the most common providers of LPR software and hardware. Users may also see a thread on this topic in our discussion group [link no longer available].
[NOTE: Alphabetical ordering - do not imply ranking or preference based on order of product].
- Avigilon: Avigilon offers several models of ALPR cameras which integrate with their Avigilon Control Center software. These cameras are intended for use in fixed LPR applications only, with HD resolution, monochrome only cameras, capable of covering 1-2 lanes, though the enclosure contains room for a color overview camera, as well. Avigilon's LPR cameras use JPEG2000 compression and are compatible only with their own software, with no third-party integration. MSRP ranges from about $5,000-6,000 USD.
- CitySync: CitySync is a UK-based provider of ALPR cameras as well as back end software. Cameras are offered in SD as well as HD resolutions, with both IR and white light illumination options for reflective or non-reflective plates. Cameras are available for both fixed and mobile applications. CitySync offers limited integration with third-party systems, listing only IndigoVision for VMS and offering integration to access control systems by relay output only, to open vehicle barriers.
- Elsag: Along with PIPS, Elsag is one of the most common LPR providers in North America. Elsag offers fixed and mobile LPR cameras, including a light bar with built-in cameras [link no longer available] for law enforcement agencies. Only SD resolutions are available, with no integration to third party access or VMS systems.
- Genetec: As part of their AutoVu LPR line, Genetec offers multiple models of camera, which they call the Sharp. Models are available in SD through HD resolution, and contain pulsed IR illuminators in addition to the capture camera and a color overview camera. An encoder/processor model is also avaiable, the Sharp EX, for use with third-party analog license plate capture cameras. AutoVu is intended for both fixed and mobile use for police and parking enforcement. Third party integration is available for parking applications only, no VMS or access control integration is offered. Pricing is in the range of $8,000-10,000 MSRP per camera, including licensing.
- INEX/Zamir: INEX/Zamir offers LPR cameras and processors for fixed applications only, no mobile enforcement. Cameras are available in SD and megapixel resolutions, with built-in pulsed IR. All-in-one processor/camera units are also available, as well as a specialized unit intended for automatic enforcement of bus lanes. Integration to third party VMSs/DVRs and access control systems are available.
- ipConfigure [link no longer available]: ipConfigure offers an LPR app which runs on Axis cameras, performing processing on the camera and streaming XML data containing plate reads and alerts out to third-party systems. The ipConfigure LPR plugin is limited to 10 FPS, capable of capturing cars up to about 35 mph. This limits its use generally to fixed applications where some speed controls are in place, as it will not capture fast-moving vehicles. The ipConfigure LPR app has an MSRP of $999.
- Perceptics: Perceptics offers three models of LPR camera with built-in processor and illmunator, with resolutions ranging from SD to 4MP. They also offer cameras tailored for reading department of transportation identifiers on trucks, as well as shipping container codes. These cameras are intended for fixed applications only, and no integration to third-party systems is supported.
- PIPS/Federal Signal: PIPS provides cameras and processors for fixed and mobile applications, very popular among law enforcement. Cameras are available in SD and megapixel resolutions and include pulsed IR illuminators. Integration to parking and access control systems is available, but not to third-party VMS systems.
This list is an overview only. We plan to expand upon it in the future.
For background on issues capturing license plates images, see our License Plate Capture shootout results.
Regular vs Optimized LPR Cameras
One of the biggest issues and potential gotchas is whether to use regular day/night surveillance cameras or use special purpose LPR cameras (that integrate pulsed IR, sync the pulse to the frame rate, optimize the exposure rate, etc.).
We recommend users to be extremely cautious about using regular cameras. While they may work some of the time in some situations, you may face painful problems and dissappointment. If you want to save money on cameras and can tolerate some limitations, at least test it our in your specific environment so you can see for yourself how significant and bearable they are.
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