The Problem:

Existing art solutions to panoramic/wide-field imaging share a number of problems in execution. Pan-Tilt-Zoom systems can cover the full panorama, but have long “slew” times (the time needed to turn and point the camera in another direction), significant power demands, and most of all require moving components which break and/or wear. Fisheye lenses or wide-field mirrors significantly distort the images of the panorama, and are also placing the entirety of the panorama on a single imaging device, drastically reducing the resolution of the image. Camera clusters can cover the entire panorama in high-resolution, but are expensive and demand many times the power of other solutions that use a single camera.

An ideal panoramic imaging solution, especially for situational awareness and security applications, would allow high-resolution imagery of the entire panorama, would be able to cover the panorama several times a second, have effectively no slew time, and require minimal power, with no moving components.

IEM’s Wise Solution

To address these issues, IEM has created the innovative and patented Synthetic Field-of-View, or SynthFOV, approach. SynthFOV is a unique imaging approach that uses a system of solid-state shutters and mirrors to direct high-resolution fields of view to a central imaging device. A SynthFOV system may scan a full panorama, or any part thereof, in any sequence desired. Slew time is effectively nonexistent – the FOV can be shifted faster than the cameras can acquire images. They can be very small and light, and uses very little power – only that required by the camera and a very, very small amount more for the shutters. There are no moving components as the shutters are solid state or MEMS devices with literally trillions of cycles of use possible.

Resolution is limited only by the number of fields-of-view for an individual SynthFOV unit; the device illustrated has three FOVs populated, covering a total angular panorama of 170 degrees with significant overlap with the central FOV unit; fully populated the device would have 8 separate FOVs with overlap on all FOVs and would measure slightly less than 8 inches across.

The SynthFOV approach was developed specifically for use on Unmanned Ground, Air, and Surface vehicles (UGVs, UAVs, and USVs), originally for the U.S. Marine Corps. In addition to its application to robotic/remotely controlled vehicles, the SynthFOV units provide ideal security monitoring imaging systems, with multiple panoramas per second, high-quality imagery, and minimal need for servicing.