High-speed technology is changing the way mission control operators monitor their display consoles and how those systems are configured to best meet the needs of their audience.
New affordable high-end wireless cameras are enabling the operators of large display control centers to get out from behind their video consoles because they can now monitor activities on mobile handheld display devices as they move around their facility.
These new un-tethered control and monitoring systems can be a boon to operators, who are no longer confined to their desks the captives of hard-wired copper cable, said Jim Hatcher, chief technology officer of Human Circuit, located in Gaithersburg, Md. The company specializes in installing portable video recording equipment.
Normally, security cameras send a streaming video to a decoding computer that splits off the signals and sends them to multiple video displays via a wired connection, Hatcher said. With the new wireless technology, high-speed wireless Panasonic security cameras send the signal directly to a handheld computer or other portable display device, he said.
“We use wireless technology to stream the images in real time,” Hatcher said. “People can be walking around, pick off the stream and control the cameras and change the view. People are not stuck at a desk anymore.”
The un-tethered monitoring can have broad applications in the government environment, he said. For example, training classes could be improved by having operators simultaneously monitor some events as they occur, while watching other classes on the wireless network. For law enforcement, new applications can enhance security; for example, an agency that is looking for a suspect via facial recognition software could more quickly alert law officers in the field of a hit via an instant dispatch through the officer’s smartphones, he said. In each of those cases, “by taking them [government officials] out of the centralized control room, we are giving them access to the same information, but not locked in one room,” he said.
Quividi’s audience measurement technology offers display system viewer analysis.
Getting out from behind a desk can be great, but moving around may cause serious problems for video display systems that are not designed to take such punishment. To meet those new off-the-desk challenges, NextComputing offers the ViewPort, a hardened portable monitor system for mobile laptop users who require multiple high-resolution displays.
The ViewPort is a 17-inch light-emitting diode (LED) backlit monitor system that provides either a second or third monitor in a rugged aluminum alloy housing designed to withstand continuous use on the road, said Aaron Sherman, marketing director for NextComputing, located in Nashua, N.H.
“It’s probably a bit more focused on the battlefield than the construction site, but could be used for either,” Sherman said. “The target customer is someone using a high-end laptop or running applications that need multiple monitors,” he said. The ViewPort could be used as a geographic information system (GIS) application for surveying, or for disaster response or battlefield planning, he added.
The monitor features full HD resolution (1920×1200), and it has a high color-depth, 8-bit (16.7 million colors) LED backlit display, Sherman said. The display provides true-to-life visuals and is compatible with high-end laptops like the Apple MacBook Pro, HP EliteBook or Dell Precision M6600 mobile workstation, he said.
The ViewPort portable comes either as a single monitor with handle or can be used as a pair of monitors for users who need three total displays. When used alone, the monitor comes with a protective aluminum alloy liquid crystal display (LCD) cover. When used as a pair, the second monitor attaches to the first monitor facing inward, allowing them to be carried with a single handle, much like a briefcase.
“We know there are some consumer-level portable monitors out there,” Sherman said, “but they aren’t designed to be handled, scratched, dropped or whatever. Ours are much more robust than a typical molded plastic monitor.”
SmartAVI’s new QuadKVM Switch focuses on helping users get more out of their current video display systems. The “switch” allows users to view up to four different analog and digital video sources simultaneously on one display device. It also supports USB keyboard and mouse functionality, allowing users to access all four displays with one set of interface controls, said John Burnap, of SmartAVI, located in North Hollywood, Calif.
Connections to the video sources are managed through DVI-I connectors. Advanced viewing options include dualmode, quad-mode, full-screen mode, and “picture in picture” (PIP) mode. The switch offers a solution for users who need to monitor several computers at the same time. For example, in air traffic control environments, several computers need to be monitored for the progress of flights and flight information. The switch supports this type of multi-tasking, allowing the user to run tasks on each computer and monitor their progress in real-time without having to switch back and forth between them.
Other companies are working on ways to make video display systems smarter or more targeted. New “audience measurement technology” (AMT) places cameras adjacent to the display system screen to measure the demographics of the audience that is looking at the message being displayed. The components have multiple potential government applications, including security, or crowd recognition like at airports, said Olivier Duizabo, chief executive officer of the display system integration company, Quividi located in France.
AMT is based on facial recognition software that identifies individual display system viewers by using a biometric system to detect and analyze a person’s facial characteristics.
In the systems that Quividi has installed, they use universal serial bus (USB) cameras to gather basic customer information (age and gender) as well as unique consumer impressions, dwell time, impressions per object and impressions by time of day.
To make it work, the images are routed through Quividi’s proprietary image processing technology that counts actual viewers, overall opportunities to see, attention times and dwell times. It then displays the metrics in real time, allowing display systems to adapt dynamically to its audience, Duizabo said.
“This technology is really going to change the way that display systems are used,” Duizabo said.