ipix fish-eye camera

the dome camera and it’s Nikon fish-eye lens

Image above: Ipix’s raw format (spherical image). Click to try the Ipix static image viewer in a separate window, which helps to view a single Ipix’s frame, wrapping from raw format to normal rectangular format (not the video).

his is among the most interesting things I’ve ever worked on: Ipix’s CommandView™: fish-eye cameras which provide a 360° x 180° field of vision. This camera and it’s technology were very special and advanced at the time, about 3, 4 years ago, it were so new that the manufacturer could not survive the small market share and went bankruptcy. However, the technology has now revired at http://www.ipix.com. The camera came with some totally new concepts, patents and technologies. Some information on Ipix:

Ceiling or wall-mounted, with thick hard steel cover, the camera is designed to operate indoor or outdoor, and can withstand a temperature range from -40°C to 60°C. It costs about $2100 at the current time, and about $5000 when it first appeared. CommandView™ Dome is an IP camera, having a small Linux computer inside, once plugged onto LAN or WAN, the camera turns into a video server and can stream video in many protocols: http, ftp, rtp, or multicast. There’re 3 ways to control the camera: ssh to the Linux machine, access to it’s web-server or programatically use the XML-RPC interface. The product has a very matured and solid development flatform.

CommandView™ Dome is a mega-pixel camera (2 MB, 3 MB). The unique feature of this product is that it provides a 360° x 180° field of view with no moving parts. See the image beside (on the left – click to view a mega-pixel version), every details in the room is captured on a parabolic sphere (called wrapped image). To have a normal view, a region on the sphere is dewrapped (by software) into usual rectangular plane.

Since a whole 360° space is captured, PTZ (pan / tilt / zoom) is just a matter of dewrapping, there’s no need to motorize the camera for different sighting fields. This special camera has broadened the definition of ‘panorama’ and has many applications in security surveillance as well as photography. I myself found it very interesting to apply the concepts and softwares to demonstration and show-case purposes (search for ‘ipix’, the name has gone far beyond just a type of camera).