Another spin on 360-degree vision

Immervision’s model converts existing systems with lenses, software
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

MONTREAL--As Grandeye and Sony continue the legacy of Ipix’s 360-degree vision cameras, Immervision has come to market with a solution that involves attaching its IMV 1.33-inch lens to virtually any camera, creating a 360-degree camera when accompanied by free software installed on the DVR or NVR.

The result is “full panoramic functionality,” said Yves Messier, Immervision’s vice president video surveillance applications, “it’s essentially a digital PTZ, both live and playback.” While many people think of the one broad fish-eye image that shows an entire 360-degree scene, Messier stressed that the major benefit of the technology is that you can view any piece of that scene whenever you’d like, with no distortion, just like the image returned from a PTZ. And on playback, you can view any other scene, and multiple operators can return multiple pieces at the same time. Further, the shape of the lens enhances the image around the perimeter, Messier said, so that it uses 30 percent more of the sensor, and increasing the resolution of any camera to which the lens is attached.

So far, Messier said, European and Canadian companies have been quicker to embrace the technology. DVR makers like Aimetis, Dynatrol and Salient have signed on to be Immervision-enabled, meaning the DVRs ship with the Immervision software, and integrators like Chubb and Stanley are installing the product.

“The biggest advantage,” said Christophe Bouchaud, vice president and general manager, eastern region, for Stanley Canada, “is that it doesn’t really matter if you’re looking at a live or recorded image.

You can always go back and have the 360 degrees after the fact.” And he agreed with Messier’s assessment that this presents a good business opportunity for returning to existing clients.

“For a retro-fit, it’s a no-brainer,” he said. “As long as you’re connected via IP or coax, it will work.”
Bouchaud said you have to manage end user expectations properly, though. “The expectation is that they would get the same result as the PTZ,” he said, “where you can turn the camera and start zooming in.

That’s not going to happen if it’s a VGA image. You’re a prisoner of the resolution of the camera.” If you put the lens on a five-megapixel camera, it would very much act like a normal PTZ.

“The interesting thing is that the U.S. market is slower to adopt the technology than the European or Canadian market,” Messier said, “and it’s because until we’ve signed on a Pelco or OnSSI, they’re kind of skeptical.” Currently, there are 15 manufacturers who’ve embedded the software, and Messier said Immervision is in talks with many of the larger companies that would provide validation for the U.S. market.

But “they have a 100 different project priorities,” Messier reasoned, “and where does this fit? It’s all about the demand.”