Advanced Imaging

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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 10:01 AM CDT

Security in 3D

Overcoming problems of lighting changes, partial obstructions and multiple targets
Rockefeller Center observation deck
© TZYX
Changing lighting conditions on the Rockefeller Center observation deck provide numerous tracking challenges that were solved by a 3D system.
tracking people
© TZYX
Tracking a person in an area of bright sunlight, such as this office setting, would be difficult in 2D.
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By Barry Hochfelder

In today's nervous society, real-time people-tracking is vital. Whether patrolling borders, following foot traffic at an airport or even protecting entertainment venues, security is on everyone's mind.

Necessity being, of course, the mother of invention means that challenges like crowds, lighting changes and physical obstructions have led to new solutions. One very interested party—for obvious reasons—is the United States government. In fact, one company began developing its tracking system with original funding from the Department of Defense.

TYZX, Inc., (Menlo Park, Calif.) has developed PersonTrack, an embedded 3D tracking system that is implemented on a network of Linux G2 computers.

According to a TYZX white paper written by Gaile Gordon, Xiangrong Chen and Ron Buck: "Many vision-based security tracking systems have traditionally relied on 2D image data, but because 2D approaches are sensitive to lighting changes and because heuristics must be used to handle occlusion events (when one person or object is partially or completely blocking another), 2D is not a reliable technology for security tracking."

Gordon, a company co-founder and VP of Advanced Development, added in a separate interview that "3D lets you separate people by distance even if they're blocked or lighting is in variance. With 2D, you try to recognize what's there by color. If the light changes, it has no base. 3D has range and variance."

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