Stabilization software targets law enforcement, military applications

Current image-stabilization techniques sharpen the effects of images without taking into account how blurring may have occurred. And, because many current techniques only operate on a frame of data at a time, they cannot easily remove video noise that may be inherent in the image.

Oct 1st, 2000
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Current image-stabilization techniques sharpen the effects of images without taking into account how blurring may have occurred. And, because many current techniques only operate on a frame of data at a time, they cannot easily remove video noise that may be inherent in the image.


VISAR software can enhance videos taken in extremely low light. The single frame (left) taken at night was brightened, enhancing details and reducing noise. To further overcome the video's defects in one frame, information was added from multiple frames to reveal a person. To create the clarified image (right), images from less than 1 s of videotape were added.
Click here to enlarge image

Now, David Hathaway and Paul Meyer at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (Huntsville, AL) have developed a software package—Video Image Stabilization and Registration (VISAR)—that corrects the effects of jitter, rotation, and zoom from frame to frame in video. Once corrected, registered video images can be combined to produce clearer images.

Already, a number of companies plan to license the software in commercially available products. These include Barco Display Systems (Duluth, GA) and Intergraph Government Solutions (Huntsville, AL). While Barco will use the VISAR software in new computer hardware for real-time video image enhancement, stabilization, and tracking, Intergraph will add the software to its Video Analyst Workstation targeted at the law-enforcement and military markets.

Commercial interest in licensing the Marshall invention is based on its ability to do more than just remove noise from images. The software also corrects for horizontal and vertical camera motion, rotation, and zoom effects. In use, it produces clearer images of moving objects, smoothes jagged edges, and enhances still images. Originally developed using the Interactive Data Language from Research Systems (Boulder, CO), the software has now been rewritten in C++ and runs under Windows.

OTHER APPLICATIONS
NASA is seeking other commercial opportunities for the VISAR software systems. To do so, Meyer and Hathaway are working with the Casey Eye Institute at the Oregon Health Sciences University (Portland, OR) to adapt the software to study video of cell movements in the eye associated with immune-system diseases.

"Working with the NASA software, we can answer questions that advance our understanding of processes unique to the eye and of how the immune system works," says Stephen Planck, associate professor at the Casey Institute. "After the NASA software enhanced the video, we could see cell movements that were undetectable before," he adds.

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