RFEL, who specialises in high performance, electronic video and signal processing solutions, will be launching two new form factors of its HALO™ video processing solution on stand 2042 at AUVSI 2013, Washington DC during 12-15 August 2013. The new versions are a System-on-Module small form factor board and a PCI Express-based XMC board that are designed to be easily incorporated into new and existing Unmanned Vehicle Systems. HALO™ products provide next generation, low power, real-time, video processing at the source for image-based surveillance in defence and security and industrial applications. Furthermore, HALO™ products are not restricted by American ITAR export regulations as they are designed and manufactured in the UK.
Solving the ballooning image processing problem
For millennia, battles have been won or lost based on the quality and accuracy of Military Intelligence. High Definition and Standard Definition video are critical for contemporary intelligence, providing long range weapons targeting, UAV based surveillance, vehicle driving aids, and monitoring of unauthorised incursions into restricted areas. Having real-time Actionable Intelligence (AI), which can be used by tactical, operational and strategic decision makers, is dramatically changing Command at all levels as it greatly enhances the Common Operating Picture (COP).
A downside of the rapid growth in the amount of available high resolution video surveillance data over the past decade is that nobody can analyse or even watch the vast quantity of videos recorded and transmitted. By 2015, some 100,000 personnel are expected to be required to analyse all of the video that the US military collects, which equates to a third of the active air force.
In excess of 20 years of continuous video footage was recorded in Iraq and Afghanistan by the US military in 2009. The USAF alone has collected an average of more than 10,000 hours of video per month.
Image processing at the source
“We have developed HALO™ specifically to solve this problem at the root – at the sensor payload, so that the available communications’ bandwidth of the platform can be used to best effect,” explained Alex Kuhrt, RFEL’s CEO. HALO™ is a completely new design solution and we are launching different products to address the diverse needs of the military. This is a new segment in that everybody has the cameras today, but very few solutions exist to deal with the information flow coming from them.”
HALO™ enables video analytics directly at the source. Its real-time video processing blocks condition the incoming stream and rectify many of the common shortfalls of existing video systems, including poor raw sensor imagery under very challenging lighting or atmospheric conditions. For example, a camera mounted on a moving vehicle, aircraft or even on the top of a pole will suffer from shake and vibration that makes it challenging for machine automated video processing and very tiring for a human operator to watch. This limits its use for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR).
Dual-camera sensors, e.g. one recording in infra-red and one in visible, provide useful data about what is happening but it becomes useful intelligence when both streams are combined together in a way that highlights important information.
HALO real-time and low-power image processing solutions
RFEL has created a solution to these challenges that delivers powerful, real time, video processing — even when operating in the most demanding of visual environments. HALO™ products enable high performance and smart intelligent video processing and analytics right at the source and remove the requirement of power-hungry, central processing in vehicles, UAVs or other sensor-carriers
Available in three standard form factors, the core image conditioning features of HALO provide image enhancement, while also significantly reducing the data load on the network. Furthermore, the HALO™ platform readily supports the integration of client firmware and software to achieve a strongly integrated and maximally efficient solution.HALO SoM
HALO™ is available as:
- ruggedly housed sub-system, that realises the HALO™ processing solution in a small form factor (137mm x 105mm x 80mm). It is suitable for qualification to military environmental standards and offers direct connections to standard video interfaces and host control interfaces. The connectors are MIL-DTL-38999 III series as standard, but customer specified connector technologies can optionally be incorporated, including commercial or industrial standards.
- the new, PCI Express-based, XMC form factor board to integrate in system electronic compartments, which offers direct connections to standard video interfaces in addition to high throughput host control interfaces. It can be customised to specified interface requirements, and is available in a variety of ruggedness levels. It is suitable for use in any high performance video system, and can offer a road map to very high performance capability, or as a turn-key obsolescence management or retro-fit solution.
- the new, tiny (90mmx75mm) System-on-Module board, equipped with an all-digital high density connector to implement directly into sensor housings. This is a mezzanine (or ‘daughterboard’) small processor board which offers circuit-level connections to the HALO™ processing system’s internal digital video and host control interfaces. It requires a host carrier board to provide external video interfacing, e.g. video decode or other adaptor chip-sets. It can be customised to customer specific connector requirements. It brings the power of the HALO™ solution to products with private or very constrained form-factors and external interfaces. It can also accelerate the adoption of RFEL image processing IP to existing product designs by offering a plug-in solution.
IQFabric and HALO™ open development environment
User designs, in FPGA and/or software domains, can be integrated into the system with ease. FPGA video data frameworks, using AXI based interfacing and documented APIs and drivers, along with a fast integration work-flow, make accessing the power of HALO™ a quick and easy proposition for developers wishing to incorporate their own IP. Since Linux is a key enabling technology of IQFabric, product developers can also take advantage of the Linux eco-system of applications, network enabled capabilities, security and ruggedness that this widely used operating system provides.
All HALO™ products have a range of built-in IP-blocks: video input switch, test pattern generator, video output switch, software frame grab, digital zoom and digital overlay.
Additional video processing IP-blocks that can be easily added to HALO™ products are:
- Intelligent fusion of multi-modal imagery, such as from daylight and IR cameras.
- Image stabilisation, even when the platform is subject to severe vibration, and when the imagery is sparse in features or of low contrast.
- Contrast enhancement to maintain high performance operation in marginal lighting conditions for both visible and IR wavebands.
- Noise reduction for optimising operation in low ambient light and for ensuring robust image fusion.
- Lens distortion correction.
- Support for compression standards.