87867 Steps at CES

I wear size 12 shoes. There’s approximately one foot between each of my steps with each stride totaling about three feet. This means I covered roughly 263,601 feet at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show! What does distance have to do with seeing? Nothing, unless you attended this year’s CES. It took me almost 50 miles of walking to truly see a big theme emerge at  CES 2019:  mini-video cameras, smart cameras, and video processing equipment. Don’t get me wrong, there were a ton of other cool gadgets, technologies, and themes. I simply had to pick and choose over the course of a few short days.  There was so much technology and so little time.

Do You See Me?

From 3D cameras and IR cameras to HD video cameras and video surveillance systems, cameras were all over the CES show floor this year. As everyone knows, small 3D cameras are a great way to capture videos and real-time imaging almost anywhere in the world at any moment in time. Video cameras are also a great way to capture still images from a sequence of events whether past or present— just look at your phone app on your smartphone. The real benefit of these tiny devices aren’t the cameras themselves but the applications for which they are being used. Many of the applications used smart cameras for safety, security, or to augment reality. Take for example, Golfzon, a company that provides full-user experience in sports simulators such as golf, baseball, and tennis. These systems allow full-user activity (i.e. hitting an actual ball) and provide full-video user experience without being in the actual field of play. Yet it seems so real!

Golf Simulator

What was profound, though, during my long walks at CES were all the different industries for which these 3D-smart cameras are being applied. Industry examples included automotive technologies, home security and infant monitoring, smart cities, government/municipalities, medical diagnoses and surgical assistance, retail, manufacturing and automation, drone surveillance, virtual gaming, and agricultural crop monitoring/planting systems to name a few. Today, most of us already have smart cameras in our cars, phones, and houses. It wouldn’t surprise me if each one of us regularly interacted with 10-12 cameras by 2020. How many billions of people are in the world? That’s a lot of cameras! It’s safe to say that any industry could use one or more of these cameras in just about any application.

Want to See Me?

The want or desire to be in one place, yet still be able to monitor happenings elsewhere is where these cameras shine. Companies like Ring and EZVIZ are using mini-video cameras in doorbells and outside camera-monitoring systems for a huge variety of home security applications. Some of these doorbell camera devices even have the intelligence to alert the owner if the visitor is a family member or a stranger.

Outdoor Camera System

Another example comes from municipalities and city governments who want to monitor what’s happening on their streets to help create safer environments or monitor traffic behaviors to help prevent accidents. Many of those applications use multiple cameras and image processing techniques to stitch together time captured videos for current or a later use. One very unique application at CES was the ability to capture emotions through facial expressions using the Intel RealSense camera to control a wheelchair. Just think of all the applications for which emotions can be used to make intelligent decisions without being present to witness the expression. How about pain-tolerance levels of a patient or adaptive-driving styles or the feed from an audience? Let’s not forget applications such as extended reality and virtual reality either. The possibilities are endless. Everyone wants to be in the know and 3D camera applications allow this to happen.

Need to see me?

Another area where these cameras shine is through the necessity of verification. The term ‘need’, by definition, is a prerequisite or requirement for something or some course of action. For example, an iris identification system to authenticate the driver and deliver customized security, comfort, and convenience is a product that Gentex of Holland, Michigan, has recently launched in vehicles. This system can also be used to help secure and enhance vehicle-to-home automation services because of the human authentication.

Iris Identification System

I spoke about cameras in doorbells earlier but another application for the necessity of verification is facial recognition. Take for instance Kasa Smart, which has developed a Smart Video Doorbell that can recognize family members or note a stranger and then tailor the alert. Mookkie features a wide-angle camera that deploys operations necessary for visual recognition between a cat and a dog. Security was the dominant ‘need’ at CES, but comfort and convenience came in as a close second. I can only surmise that we as humans using cameras for safety, comfort and convenience is changing our behaviors away from ‘wants’ and moving them to ‘needs’. I’m an example. Five years ago, a backup-assist camera on my truck was merely a want. Today, I cannot see owning another truck without a backup-assist camera. I need that camera.

Then See Me.

DISHER has Electronics Engineers capable of designing hardware, PCB layouts, and embedded/app software to ideate and create your next camera application. Even one of our own engineers, Scott Brandonisio, helped design and develop RingCam a video-capturing system used in ring boxes to video marriage proposals. See DISHER for your next 3D camera/video application need.

DISHER was recently listed in the Top 10 for PCB Design and Engineering Solutions by Embedded Advisor magazine.

Written By: Tod Grams, Area Lead – Electronics

Tod has a Bachelors degree in Electronics Engineering and an Masters degree in Engineering Management with over 24 years of Electronics industry experience. Outside of work, he’s either in the kitchen cooking or enjoying activities including competitive bowling, camping with the family and golfing.