Aqueti Gigapixel Examined

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Nov 04, 2012

While gigapixel cameras are one of the hottest topics on IPVM, their dreadful frame rates have restricted them to niche use. Forget about one frame per second, those cameras are lucky to deliver a frame per minute. Now a startup is claiming 600 times faster frame rate with a completely different approach to gigapixel imaging. In this note, we dig into the technical details, pricing, performance and potential limitations.

Camera History

The AWARE gigapixel platform began as a Duke University research project. After several successes in field tests and a round of DARPA funding, the project has been spun off into a company named Aqueti. The 'first generation' of AWARE cameras have been deployed by the US Navy for maritime port surveillance, and the new company considers video surveillance to be a core application and development focus.

How it Works

Aqueti's build approach places 'microcameras', or single megapixel cameras into a semi hemispherical frame surrounding the central monocentric lens. Each camera fires simultaneously, capturing a portion of the image focused by the lens, and then assembles that image into a single frame through controller cards on the backend. The rendering below depicts the a typical unit:

aqueti picture

This configuration allows for a very wide FoV - up to 120 degrees wide x 70 degrees tall - to be exposed by a camera with no moving parts and a single lens.

Depending on the type of microcameras used, the same basic built type can be build a 1 gigapixel camera (AWARE2.0) up to a 4 gigapixel camera (AWARE10.0) with differences in central lens, microcamera resolution, and compiler card allowing a scaled architecture.

Options for either monochromatic (black/while) or full color images are available.

Camera Details

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

[UPDATE 2015: The company has pivoted downward in resolution and, at least for now, away from surveillance. More details at the end of the post.]

Size: The enclosure cabinet measures ~2.5' x 2.5' x 1.5', however much of that bulk are the attached compiler cards for the microcameras. If those hardware cards are installed apart from the camera, the footprint of the optics hardware would be less than half.

Cost: Aqueti is producing two models of cameras -

  • AWARE2.0: ~$250,000 USD for a version that uses ~100 14 megapixel microcameras (1.4 gigapixels)
  • AWARE10.0: ~$500,000 USD for a version that uses ~400 14 megapixel microcameras (5.6 gigapixels)

Monochromatic now, Color later: The AWARE platform is currently built using B/W cameras, and the manufacturer cites this is due to limited testing and development resources during the startup phase. The manufacturer states that initial cameras were built to specific design criteria requiring B/W images. However, Aqueti can build current models using color image cameras and will offer standard color models with the next production release.

Sample Image

For reference, see these examples images from an AWARE2.0 (1 gigapixel). For an image representative of surveillance applications, select the "Seattle Skyline" image from the list. (Direct linking is not possible due to the webpage requiring the images be seen via the webpage's embedded viewer.) Notice the honeycomb fashion in which each individual camera image is stitched together:

sample image

Optical Flaws

Sample images reveals several types of visual flaws not apparent in other gigapixel offerings. Aqueti recognizes these flaws, and attributes many of them to the protypical nature of early models, many due to microcamera positioning, lens grind methods, and early versions of the stitching software. The company also gives direct feedback on how these problems have been resolved and fixed moving forward. That noted, users should carefully track the true resolving power of the camera.

Differentiators

The difference in architecture gives Aqueti some advantages over other gigapixel cameras:

  • High Framerate: First, the maximum framerate from Aqueti cameras are up to 10 FPS. Unlike other cameras that generate 1 frame every 70 (or more seconds), the 4 gigapixel AWARE10 platform acquires images at near-surveillance real time rates.
  • Solid State: Also, unlike other cameras that must repeatedly rotate to scan a wide FoV, Aqueti is built with no moving pieces to break or wear. The central lens allows for a broad exposure with no need to mechanically reposition the imager.
  • Low f Number: Instead of a panning telephoto lens with a high f number, Aqueti's approach allows them to use a larger lens (f/2.0) that may improve low light performance.

Risks

However, as Aqueti platform is only now entering production, it has some key drawbacks:

  • Proprietary Inefficient Compression: The current generation of camera uses proprietary encoding and compression that behaves much like MJPEG - a single frame is downloaded and then consecutively assembled together to create video. The developer suggests next generation of camera (with an expected release of Jan 2013) will include H.264 codecs that more efficiently manage compression and bandwidth.
  • Extra Baggage: Because of the proprietary encoding method used, each AWARE camera must have a dedicated video server/storage directly attached to each camera. Not unlike the similar 'cameras per server' restriction that facility wide video surveillance carries, the 100 - 400 microcameras per gigapixel lens is limited by the same constraint.
  • No VMS: No integration with 3rd party VMSes exists. The company says that as it finalizes 'front side' design, it will begin work on 3rd party integration.
  • Not Weatherized: The camera has not yet been 'weatherproofed'. At the present time, AWARE platforms have been installed in controlled environments and have no field deployments in harsh climates. Aqueti suggests that the next phase of development will focus in this area.

Applications and Positioning

Since gigapixel surveillance is still underdeveloped compared to mainstream offerings, we cannot direct comparison between Aqeuti and even high megapixel offerings. However, clear lines of distinction can be drawn on the following points:

  • Early Production: Aqueti is still in 'startup mode' and is working to formalize its productions designs, internal business structure, and 'to-market' strategies. While the company has specific plans and timelines in place to develop these areas, it is a new company offering a new product - which in itself indicates some level of risk.
  • Costly: While the price is high relative to megapixel cameras, it is in the same range as current gigapixel cameras with the crucial advantage of higher frame rates. For those looking for a wide area surveillance solution of high security areas, the pricing could be quite attractive.
  • Integration Difficulty: The cameras will have to be monitored on a stand alone basis or additional time and cost will be needed for integration.

Go to Market

The company aims to develop its own brand and sales, rather than OEM. They are looking for integration partners to build a channel.

Future

This is not an offering that will take over the mainstream in the months ahead but its fundamentally novel approach gives it an opportunity to become a major new force in wide area monitoring in the next five years. However, many risks and issues obviously remain.

UPDATE 2015

Aqueti has pivoted towards events capturing (basketball games, etc.) and is focusing on lower resolution cameras. Their current cameras do a maximum of 250MP at 6fps or 60MP at 24 to 30fps. Also, the output is raw and still not compressed for storage, etc.

2 reports cite this report:

Aqueti 100MP Mantis Camera Profile on Apr 14, 2017
One of the original gigapixel camera startups, Aqueti, which we first covered in 2012, is back. This time, they have partnered with NVIDIA,...
ISC West 2017 Best and Worst on Apr 10, 2017
IPVM went to Las Vegas, examining what vendors are showcasing and what is new. Attendance was up, according to the show, and was certainly well...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Startup

Directory of 68 Video Surveillance Startups on Sep 18, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
ASIS GSX 2019 Final Show Report on Sep 12, 2019
IPVM went to Chicago for ASIS GSX 2019, with many exhibitors disappointed about traffic and the exhibitor schedule changing next year. However,...
JCI Sues Wyze on Aug 21, 2019
The mega manufacturer / integrator JCI has sued the fast-growing $20 camera Seattle startup Wyze. Inside this note: Share the court...
Verkada People And Face Analytics Tested on Aug 16, 2019
This week, Verkada released "People Analytics", including face analytics that they describe is a "game-changing feature" that "pushes the...
Mobile Access Control Shootout - Farpointe, HID, Openpath, Nortek, Proxy on Jul 29, 2019
One of the biggest rising trends in access control is using phones as credentials but which offering is best? IPVM has tested five of the...
Giant Tyco Campaigns Against Startup Qumulex on Jul 25, 2019
One is a giant conglomerate that owns the world's largest security integrator. The other has no shipping products. But Tyco is campaigning...
How To Quickly Research An Unknown Company on Jul 23, 2019
There are hundreds of companies in the physical security markets, ranging from a flood of new startups to small companies that may or may not be...
ZeroEyes Gun Detection Startup on Jul 16, 2019
A gun detection video analytics startup, ZeroEyes, is being led by a group of 6 former Navy SEALs, aiming to "save lives" by using AI to assist...
Calipsa - UK AI Startup Profile on Jul 10, 2019
Analytic startups are a major industry trend. One UK company, Calipsa is aiming to use AI to filter out false positive alarms for live video...
2019 Mid-Year Video Surveillance Guide on Jul 01, 2019
IPVM's new 400+ page Mid-Year Industry Guide brings all of these issues and events together in a single resource to read and review. It can be...

Most Recent Industry Reports

ONVIF Suspends Huawei on Sep 20, 2019
Huawei has been 'suspended', and effectively expelled, from ONVIF so long as US sanctions remain on the mega Chinese manufacturer. Inside this...
Open Access Controller Guide (Axis, HID, Isonas, Mercury) on Sep 19, 2019
In the access control market, there are many software platforms, but only a few companies that make non-proprietary door controllers. Recently,...
Axis Perimeter Defender Improves, Yet Worse Than Dahua and Wyze on Sep 19, 2019
While Axis Perimeter Defender analytics improved from our 2018 testing, the market has improved much faster, with much less expensive offerings...
Directory of 68 Video Surveillance Startups on Sep 18, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Uniview Prime Series 4K Camera Tested on Sep 18, 2019
Is the new Uniview 'Prime' better than the more expensive existing Uniview 'Pro'? In August, IPVM tested Uniview 4K 'Pro' but members advocated...
US Army Base To Buy Banned Honeywell Surveillance on Sep 17, 2019
The U.S. Army's Fort Gordon, home to their Cyber Center of Excellence, has issued a solicitation to purchase Honeywell products that are US...
Vivotek "Neural Network-Powered Detection Engine" Analytics Tested on Sep 17, 2019
Vivotek has released "a neural network-powered detection engine", named Smart Motion Detection, claiming that "swaying vegetation, vehicles passing...
Schmode is Back, Aims To Turn Boulder AI Into Giant on Sep 16, 2019
One of the most influential and controversial executives in the past decade is back. Bryan Schmode ascended and drove the hypergrowth of Avigilon...
Manufacturers Unhappy With Weak ASIS GSX 2019 And 2020 Shift on Sep 16, 2019
Manufacturers were generally unhappy with ASIS GSX, both for weak 2019 booth traffic and a scheduling shift for the 2020 show, according to a new...