The Imaging System for Immersive Surveillance (ISIS) makes use of new video camera and image-stitching technology and can be bolted to a ceiling, mounted on a roof, or fastened to a truck-mounted telescoping mast. The unit makes use of a series of individual cameras to create video that is stitched together into a single, 360-degree, live view like a high-resolution video quilt. This means that, unlike traditional surveillance cameras, the device allows law enforcement to zoom in on a specific point of interest without losing visual contact with the rest of the scene.
"Coverage this sweeping, with detail this fine, requires a very high pixel count," says program manager Dr. John Fortune, of S&T's Infrastructure and Geophysical Division, "ISIS has a resolution capability of 100 megapixels." That's as detailed as 50 full-HDTV movies playing at once, with and means it can zoom in closer and closer without losing clarity.
Many of the ISIS capabilities were adapted from technology previously developed by MIT's Lincoln Laboratory for military applications, which built the current system with the help of technology experts from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory using commercial off-the-shelf cameras, computers, image processing boards and software.
ISIS creators already have their eyes on a new and improved second generation model, complete with custom sensors and video boards, longer range cameras, higher resolution, a more efficient video format, and a discreet, chandelier-like frame – no bigger than a basketball. Eventually, the Department plans to develop a version of ISIS that will use infrared cameras to detect events that occur at night.