Fraunhofer makes CCTV camera work like human eye

It looked as though only the human brain could fix on a single unusual event when viewing a constantly moving background of roaring sports fans. But the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology is now pioneering a CCTV system with two ultra-active stereo cameras that work like human eyes - following multiple targets in quick succession to spot trouble in big crowds.

Few professional tasks are more tiring for the human eye than watching for trouble in a packed soccer stadium. Computers notably failed to do the job in 2001. The American Civil Liberties Union discovered that the Florida police abandoned as useless a secret trial on a Super Bowl crowd. It looked as though only the human brain could fix on a single unusual event when viewing a constantly moving background of roaring sports fans.

But the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology is now pioneering a CCTV system with two ultra-active stereo cameras that work like human eyes - following multiple targets in quick succession to spot trouble in big crowds. The technology is linked to a European Union project known as SEARISE: Smart Eyes: Attending and Recognising Instances of Salient Events.

The project called for a ‘trinocular active cognitive’ camera system with ‘human-like capability to learn continuously from the visual input, self-adjust to ever changing visual environment, fixate salient events and follow their motion, categorize salient events dependent on the context.’ Fraunhofer’s Smart Eyes software works with a fixed surveillance camera linked to two ultra-active stereo cameras. Like human eyes, the binocular stereo cameras can zoom in on details of moving images. The software then analyses the images, calculates the degree of movement in each pixel of each image and ‘learns’ through motion patterns the difference between soccer fans jumping up and down and soccer fans fighting. It filters out distractions like flag wavers and drummers.

‘Ask someone to keep an eye on a certain stand in a football stadium and they are bound to miss many details’, said Dr. Martina Kolesnik, a research scientist with Fraunhofer at Schloss Birlinghoven in Sankt Augustin, near Bonn, Germany. ‘In certain circumstances the capabilities of a human observer are limited. They get tired quickly. This is where Smart Eyes is invaluable for video surveillance of public buildings or places.

‘The software of Smart Eyes implements a computational cognitive model of visual processing replicating major principles and computational strategies of the mammalian visual cortex. The processing starts by extracting local motion and form features from the visual input. These operations generate tremendous amounts of data in real-time, which must be processed by specialized high-performance graphics hardware.

‘The learning module at the next layer of the hierarchy takes the modulated form and motion responses to learn typical representations of object shapes and temporal dependencies in motion patterns. These learning mechanisms need to be integrated with attention control to salient events.

‘Parallel to the learning, a surprise map is computed as a measure of inconsistency between typical events that have been learnt at each layer of the hierarchy, and a present level of activity observed in the scene. Ideally, the Smart Eyes system will react to events that are likely to attract the attention of a trained human observer. Our image analysis software is compatible with camera systems produced by all vendors. It can be installed easily. The user doesn‘t have to make any adjustments.’

The technology rivals the Integrated Sensor Information System [ISIS] developed at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies at Queens University Belfast [CSIT].

The United Kingdom has more CCTV surveillance cameras per capita than any other country in the world, but the deployment of four million CCTV cameras has left the country swamped with too much video and too few trained viewers.

CSIT are equipping systems with artificial intelligence to connect small-scale events, draw conclusions about their significance and prioritise information on displays in CCTV control rooms.

‘Our system will prioritise feeds, but still ensure it’s the controller who makes the decisions as to what action to take,’ said research director Dr Paul Miller. ‘The system will instantly give every live feed a score, based on factors such as time of day, crime statistics for the location, a threat assessment of the people shown, and so on. This score will determine where each feed is placed in the queue for the controller’s attention. We aim to develop a system which helps to make crime-free buses, trains, stations and airports a reality,’ said Dr Miller. ‘It could be adapted to protect many other kinds of critical infrastructure.’


The software of Smart Eyes implements a computational cognitive model of visual processing replicating the mammalian visual cortex. Four classified shape patterns viewed in a stadium crowd: chairs (red), people (azure), steps (olive), other (purple).

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V

 

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