Forget blurry surveillance--ISIS is here!

July 30, 2013
Surveillance cameras are everywhere, and whether you approve or disapprove of their ubiquity, they have been extremely helpful in homeland security applications.
Gail Overton 720
Surveillance cameras are everywhere, and whether you approve or disapprove of their ubiquity, they have been extremely helpful in homeland security; case in point, identifying the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. While surveillance can be successful if enough cameras are used and viewing conditions are ideal, some surveillance systems lack resolution or wide field of view and fall short of security desires. But ISIS technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) aims to change that. I first mentioned ISIS--the Imaging System for Immersive Surveillance--in my CLEO blog when I described its use as a high-resolution 360-degree camera with 1 cm resolution when imaging the far end of a football field. You can get all the nitty gritty details of this camera system (and see a picture of the camera deployed at Boston's Logan Airport) by reviewing this story on Darker Net (don't try the video; it doesn't exist):
Essentially, per another online article entitled "ISIS: New Video Camera Sees It All" on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website (see, ISIS does what no other surveillance camera can--it can see a very large 360-degree field of view, but with hundreds of megapixels of resolution. That means you could position it at one end of the new concourse at San Jose International Airport and it could see what type of pastry you are ordering at the other end. While stitching together images from different cameras to obtain high resolution is a no-brainer, ISIS delivers those images as real-time, seamless video. The system is also reported to allow operators to "zoom in" and pan/tilt on a particular region of interest for further observation--all with a camera the size of a basketball. And just how many megapixels? This patent site (see says "360-degree, 240-megapixel views on a single screen." Although the image that follows isn't very crisp, you can get a feel for how the GUI works, revealing a fish-eye image and also offering high-resolution images of portions of the scene:
And if you don't think that ISIS' capabilities are at all impressive, feel free to check out a new "immersive surveillance" technology being developed by Primordial for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory called Tentacle (see Beyond imaging in a busy, public environment, Tentacle fuses sensor feeds from fixed cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and other manned vehicles into a single three dimensional (3D) display to allow the user to monitor several cameras during combat operations (or civilian events). ISIS and Tentacle give new meaning to the phrase "Big brother is watching."
About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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