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High speed camera synchronisation method developed

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The University of Malta, as part of a FP6 European project called Sensation, has developed a method for synchronising high speed cameras with exceptional accuracy. The method can be used for taking simultaneous digital snap-shots of an object or event from eight or more different angles with synchronisation errors less than 100ps.

The method is not limited by the frame rate and has been demonstrated at several hundred Hertz. Immediately upon capture the simultaneous images can be transferred over a single standard serial cable and recovered at the output with zero loss in synchronisation. The method allows accurate but practical 3D imaging of ultra high-speed processes.

The University of Malta has commissioned Isis Innovation, the technology transfer company of Oxford University, to aid in its commercialisation activities of this technology.

Commercially available matched CMOS-based cameras can be synchronised and commercial, off the shelf video transmission cables and standard frame grabbers can be used. The system is immediately applicable to the automotive vision sector where the creation of a truly synchronous automotive video bus would result in significant cable-weight savings and improved performance.

High synchronisation is achieved at the pixel, line, and frame level with little skew from each camera. Each camera is treated independently, but the output is then combined and transmitted as a composite frame, mimicking a multi-tap camera. The system utilises Camera Link bus for transmission of video data.

The technology enables a system to be engineered with low power consumption (<3-4W), high reliability and low cost. It provides a system that's robust to jitter and provides low latency.

Potential application areas for the technology include: automotive, such as for driver alertness systems, road surface condition monitoring, lane departure warning, and collision warning/avoidance; crash testing; high speed industrial vision; medical imaging, for example high resolution infrared tomography, where motion of the patient has an impact on resolution; gaming; and sports analysis.

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