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MOBOTIX S14 FlexMount

The S14 FlexMount from MOBOTIX, the world’s first flexible double hemispheric camera, is now available. The camera, which is available in both mono (S14M) and dual (S14D) versions, features miniature lens units and offers a wide range of application opportunities. For instance, the S14D can be equipped with two hemispheric lens units with integrated microphone that are connected to the main housing via cables.

This makes it possible to fully secure two rooms located next to or on top of one another with just one single S14. The slim design of the module units, which are available in white and black, permit an extremely discreet installation.

Two rooms secured with one single camera

The S14 FlexMount offers the option to set up two hemispheric lens units simultaneously in order to completely cover two adjacent rooms with just one single S14D. When installed in a certain way, the S14D can also see around corners or secure indoor and outdoor areas at the same time. The two sensors allow the S14 to generate two distortion-corrected, high-resolution 180° panorama images, each with a resolution of 3.1 megapixels. All other MOBOTIX lenses, from super-wide angle to tele lens, will be available in the near future as day or night versions.

The S14 is the world’s first hemispheric day-and-night camera. When both modules with black-and-white and color sensors are mounted directly next to each other and cover the same area, the camera automatically chooses the best available mode depending on the lighting conditions. This provides for excellent colours in daylight as well as superb light sensitivity in dark environments. Panning and zooming into the image is done purely electronically. The user is provided with detailed views and other image sections without any mechanical movement, meaning that there is no wear-and-tear to the camera and no maintenance is required.

Weatherproof, discreet and energy efficient

Both module units and the separate housing with the latest dual camera board are weatherproof in accordance with IP65 and operate in a temperature range of -30°C to +60°C (-22°F to +140°F). The flat housing, including flash memory with up to 64 GB and all external connectors (Ethernet, MiniUSB, MxBus), can be installed discreetly and with optimal protection behind a wall or ceiling panel so that only the lens units in their ultra-compact protective housing are visible. Power is supplied very cost effective via a network cable (PoE). At less than five watt-hours, the energy consumption is extremely low.

Wide range of application opportunities

The camera’s technical features and very discreet mounting open up a whole range of application opportunities. In L-shaped rooms, for example, the two sensor modules can be positioned at the corner in correct angles to each other, therefore capturing the entire room without any blind spots. Therefore, the S14 is particularly well-suited for use in hotels, banks and retail stores where the highest levels of security and discretion are required. The S14 can also demonstrate its strengths at security gates and in offices. MOBOTIX also offers the appropriate installation accessories for mounting the sensor module on thicker walls. Using several extension pieces (each approx. 40 mm), longer “tunnel holes” through a wall can also be bridged.

MOBOTIX software included free of charge

As usual with all MOBOTIX products, the complete software for configuration and operation of the camera is integrated directly into the camera. Additionally, professional video management software can be downloaded from the website free of charge.

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IMS Research predicts that image quality will be the new battleground for camera manufacturers in 2013. Image quality covers a very broad number of factors and features that go into capturing and displaying image data.

This should make for a very interesting year. We may see different manufacturers experimenting with new lenses, image sensors, and compression algorithms. However, what I would like to see is a manufacturer that dares to mainstream a completely different type of technology: plenoptic cameras.

These cameras (also known as light field cameras) use image sensors with multiple lens arrays to capture all available light. Put simply, this allows users to focus images after they have been captured.

Plenoptic cameras have been around for several years but have had a very difficult time gaining any real traction in mainstream electronics. The costs associated with these cameras (and the complex software and processing power required to edit such images) made them difficult to market. But that changed in 2012 with the Lytro plenoptic camera, which captures images at a size of approximately one megapixel. Focus can be adjusted after the fact on the camera or on a computer using special software (you can try this out for yourself by clicking on the picture below).

This picture shows the capabilities of light field cameras

Ren Ng, Lytro’s inventor, has redesigned the plenoptic camera to greatly reduce the cost. By creating an almost watered down version of commercial-grade plenoptic cameras (like those manufactured by Raytrix), Ng has been able to make these cameras fun but functional household gadgets.

Though Lytro has enjoyed great success in the consumer market, the most valuable uses for such technology reach far beyond consumers.

Re-investigating old images
The possible uses for plenoptic cameras in surveillance are limitless. Focus is just the start; plenoptic cameras collect enough light data to recreate 3D models of suspects. They can even slightly alter the viewing angle of an image after it has been captured.

Think of what science has done for DNA. As technology has improved, scientists have been able to apply new tests to old samples (just ask Lance Armstrong). The same is possible for images captured using a plenoptic camera. As software improves, new processing techniques can be applied to old images. Lytro recently added perspective shift (through a software update), which users can now apply to old Lytro images.

If the race for pixels is over and image quality is the new challenge, I think it is time for manufacturers to start exploring truly unique offerings like plenoptic technology. If Lytro can create a consumer-level camera for $400, video surveillance manufacturers can surely create an affordable plenoptic surveillance camera in 2013.

Light field technology is undoubtedly the future of imaging, but is there a manufacturer in our industry brave enough to take on the challenge?

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