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ISC West 2011 -- Axis introduces combination fish-eye/PTZ camera

Kent Fransson with
new Axis camera

Axis Communications AB, a Swedish company that considers itself at the cutting-edge of the IP camera business, has introduced a new combination camera which boasts two lenses – one is a fish-eye lens that provides a 360-degree view of an area the size of two basketball courts, the other is a PTZ lens that can zoom in on any selected area of the image.

Because the two lenses are attached to a single camera, using what Axis calls its “Panopsis” technology, the operator can view a large 360-degree area, pinpoint a specific area of interest with his computer’s cursor, automatically direct the PTZ lens to highlight the chosen area and zoom in for a close-up view. For example, if the dome camera were mounted on the ceiling of a large retail space, the operator could monitor shoppers moving in all directions, spot something suspicious, highlight that suspicious person, and automatically zoom in to see a close-up of that suspicious person.

“No matter how far you zoom in, you always know exactly where you are,” Kent Fransson, an Axis product manager told Government Security News at the ISC West show in Las Vegas. (The operator of a traditional video surveillance PTZ camera will often become disoriented when he or she zooms in for a close-up, but this new Axis model continues to show the entire 360-degree view of the overall scene, in a small box on the monitor, even as it moves in for a close-up shot in one small portion of the image.)

Fransson said development work on the Axis camera has been underway for about two years. More intensive work on the lens itself (which is made by Fujinon) and the software to drive the system has been going on for the past four months, said Carl-Ola Boketoft, an Axis firmware developer.

Axis expects the new combination camera will arrive on the market in July. The price has not been set yet, but Fransson expects it to be less than $3,000 per unit.

The new combination camera is intended to be used in real-time, rather than relying on archived video. For that reason, Fransson expects it will find a market among government customers operating surveillance systems in airports, railways and similar venues.