iMove looks 'round

As far as officials of iMove are concerned, today's surveillance cameras are just too shortsighted.

But the Portland, Oregon-based company hopes to revolutionize the surveillance industry with a multi-sensor digital video camera that provides a full 360-degree spherical view. iMove's video is also geo-referenced, meaning a global positioning system device stamps each frame so it can be integrated with geographic information system (GIS) applications.

Jamie Finn, iMove's marketing programs director, said the company's spherical video system (SVS) is being used or evaluated by the Homeland Security Department, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and U.S. Special Operations Command. The company recently announced a $1.4 million contract awarded by a government agency, but Finn wouldn't disclose its name nor confirm if it was an intelligence agency.

But he said the technology can be used for many homeland security and intelligence applications, such as collecting data for mission planning and situational awareness.

"For example, if I have to map a route from an embassy to a hospital to an airport to an (evacuation) point, I drive the route once and I can quickly capture the data," Finn said.

"With a normal camera today, we refer to it as looking through a straw — you see what the camera is pointed at but you're missing three degrees to the left or three degrees to the right," he continued. "They want as much information as possible. So we're an imagery intelligence collection tool essentially that then plugs into the broader geo-spatial intelligence systems."

It could also help homeland security officials assess vulnerability or threat assessments and first responders record critical infrastructures, such as dams, nuclear facilities and bridges for later use. For example, a first responder can be led through a smoke-filled building by a colleague viewing a "spherically documented" video of the facility, Finn said.

The company is also targeting airports and seaports where closed circuit surveillance cameras are being used, but provide a limited range of view. The company can provide fewer cameras for a greater coverage area or configure its system for particular needs.

"Think of it as a sprinkler," Finn said. "When you water your lawn you have different settings of your sprinklers because you don't want to water your pavement. So that's what we do it's kind of a sprinkler effect — where do you need coverage — and then we can put our sensors there and give you the wide area coverage at much more of a reasonable cost."

The price of the company's turnkey system, which includes cameras, other hardware devices, and integration software, is hefty, ranging from $250,000 up to $1 million. But Finn said the digital video provides more resolution and depth than anything on the market. It uses six sensors on its cameras whereas iPix, a well known immersive imaging technology company, only uses two fish-eye lens, he said.

The video can be displayed on a computer monitor and users can look left, right, up, down, forwards, backwards and move through the video. It can be integrated with ESRI's ArcView and Autodesk's MapGuide software, among others.

"So I could know exactly where I am on that map, click on that point in space if it's been captured and I'm there," he said.

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