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Still moving images

08 Dec 1997

Blurry reconnaissance camera movements may be a thing of the past. A patent describes a method of keeping objects in focus, without moving parts.

When we walk across a room, our eyes automatically adjust to keep objects in focus. The eyeballs swivel in their sockets to compensate for the movement. Professional camera operators use a harness containing a bulky set of counter-weights to achieve the same effect. In aircraft, a series of spinning mirrors or mechanical scanning devices are used.

Andre Lareau, Brian James and Russell Bennett from Recon/Optical, Inc have developed a new electro-optical imaging array which can compensate for this forward motion. In Patent 5692062 they describe how processing the pixel information can compensate without requiring any moving parts.

They use a CCD (Charge Couple Device) camera which consists of a two dimensional grid of pixels, rows and columns. Usually pixels are read individually but in this case the pixels are read at a column group at a time.

The camera records a series of images into a storage area. Processing circuitry then specifies a fixed point in the images, and extrapolates the forward motion velocity of the vehicle by tracking the movement of the point across the pixels. The camera’s circuitry then compensates for the motion in images producing crisp clear pictures.

The inventors hope to try out their invention in robotic reconnaissance planes for the US Army.

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