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A Miracle in Video?

Tech Myths: Surveillance and Electrostatic

If we can’t pull detail out of a still image, can we pull it from a video? I first ran across MotionDSP via its vReveal product, which got some publicity when Nvidia went through its last round of compute unified device architecture (CUDA) publicity. (The CUDA technology now built into Nvidia graphics processors, when paired with a CUDA-optimized program such as vReveal, can accelerate certain functions by incredible amounts.) vReveal is the $50 consumer knock-off of the $15,000 Ikena product. The lower-end application can work wonders at reducing camera shaking and improving image quality, but it’s not the Super-Resolution miracle worker that its bigger sibling supposedly is. Check this video out in high-def and full-screen to see what vReveal can and can’t do for detail and clarity.

      I wanted to know about the Secret Service and Scotland Yard technology, where they’re pushing Ikena to its top capacity of 4x Super-Resolution. While talking with Varah, I looked at the screen captures I’d taken of "National Treasure 2." Then I looked at the Logitech WiLife monitor application running on one of my screens. Screen 1 shows a view of my driveway being shot by the camera from my second-floor office window. Suddenly, I had an idea.

Five minutes later, I was in my car taping an eye chart and an HD test pattern to the inside of my windshield. I would back the car out of the driveway to the far curb, then drive back up into my usual parked position. This was far slower than whatever illegal speed Gates was using through the streets of London. My Logitech camera was shooting 640x480 resolution at 15 FPS, which was more than enough material for Ikena to crunch. The source material was also closer to what older street video surveillance cameras might shoot, never mind the masses of IP security cameras people like me might have scattered around. Then I asked Varah what was the norm in today’s video surveillance cameras, and he said 2-megapixel, perhaps three. So I trotted out my MinoHD camcorder, which shoots 1280x720 video, and stuck it in the window to record the same footage. This is only 1-megapixel of resolution, but it’s the most appropriate resolution I could shoot given the gear I had on-hand.

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