Now, software that turns cellphones into ’smart’ CCTV networkNovember 14th, 2007 - 8:13 am ICT by admin
The software uses Bluetooth, a short-range wireless technology included in many modern phones, to automatically share information and let the phones collectively analyse events that they record.
This provides a platform for a group of phones to act as smart network capable of, for example, spotting intruders or identifying wildlife.
Some other researchers are in the process of developing similar intelligent camera networks. These work like an ordinary CCTV surveillance system, but use software instead of a human analyst to interpret what is happening on screen, comparing the footage captured by each camera for a more complete picture.
Philipp Bolliger, Moritz Kohler and Kay Romer at the Institute for Pervasive Computing in Zurich, Switzerland, wanted to make such camera networks more accessible. So they developed the new software.
For testing the software, the team attached four Nokia 6630 phones running Facet to the ceiling of a corridor in their department. The phones were angled so that the camera of each could see a different part of the corridor and so that they could all see peopling walking past.
Whenever a phone detects an object entering or exiting its field of view, it sends a message via Bluetooth to alert the phones on either side. These phones, in turn, pass the message on to other nearby handsets so that eventually the entire network receives the message.
One handset on the network also reports this information to a computer over a normal GPRS cellphone connection.
Each phone determines the distance to its nearest neighbour. The phones presently use the average speed people walk to guess the distances between themselves, based on how long people take to move from one phone’s view to another’s.
In testing, the system determined the distances between each phone with about 95 percent accuracy. They were placed 4 metres apart, making it accurate to about 20 centimetres. In future, recording the speed at which objects pass by would make more accurate judgments possible.
Bolliger said that knowing the shape of the cellphone network provides the foundation for the system to perform more complex tasks. He suggested that Facet could, for example, report via text message when someone walks down a corridor in a particular direction, or sound an alarm if a dangerous animal approaches a campsite.
The team plans to release Facet as an open-source project, allowing anyone to use or modify its code, and to experiment with networked camera phones running the software.
“Because of the way we implemented it, the whole thing will run in Java on virtually any phone you want. It will be very nice to see what people come up with,” New Scientist quoted Bolliger, as saying.
However, before releasing the software, the team hopes to improve it.
“The next step is better image analysis - for example, to look at the shape or identity of objects,” Bolliger said.
Facet can presently only spot things around 1 metre in size.
“Our goal would be around 10 or 15 cm,” he added.
“I like the idea of easily connecting many phones,” said Eiman Kanjo, a researcher at Cambridge University in the UK, who is working on using cellphones to record urban pollution.
“But I don’t think they have found the best application yet. I think this would be best used in other places, when it becomes open source other people might brain storm and find the killer app,” she added. (ANI)
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Tags: average speed, bluetooth, cctv surveillance system, corridor, distances, entire network, exiting, guess, handsets, intelligent camera, intruders, kay romer, kohler, nearest neighbour, nokia 6630, pervasive computing, smart network, wireless technology, zurich switzerland