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Scientists develop all-seeing eye for surveillance

A new video surveillance system will give law enforcement a godlike omniscience, with its all-seeing eye, one that will leave nothing to chance. The system is currently under development by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).

world Updated: Jun 08, 2010 17:25 IST

A new video surveillance system will give law enforcement a godlike omniscience, with its all-seeing eye, one that will leave nothing to chance.

The system is currently under development by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).

In the event of a terrorist attack, investigators can pore over the most recent video, using pan, zoom, and tilt controls to reconstruct who did what and when.

Because these controls are virtual, different regions of a crime scene can feasibly be studied by separate investigative teams simultaneously.

The Imaging System for Immersive Surveillance (or ISIS) takes new video camera and image-stitching technology and bolts it to a ceiling, mounts it on a roof, or fastens it to a truck-mounted telescoping mast.

Like a bug-eyed fisheye lens, ISIS sees very wide. But that's where the similarity ends.

Whereas a typical fisheye lens distorts the image and can only provide limited resolution, video from ISIS is perfectly detailed, edge-to-edge.

That's because the video is made from a series of individual cameras stitched into a single, live view -- like a high-resolution video quilt.

"Coverage this sweeping, with detail this fine, requires a very high pixel count," says programme manager John Fortune, of S&T's Infrastructure and Geophysical Division.

"ISIS has a resolution capability of 100 megapixels."

Many of the ISIS capabilities were adapted from technology previously developed by MIT's Lincoln Lab for military applications.