Video surveillance cameras have been installed in public and private places all over Israel and around the world to monitor crimes and accidents and to promote security around the clock. But going over the reams of images takes a great deal of manpower and is very time consuming.

Now Hebrew University researchers have found a solution in the form of computer software that provides a synopsis of recorded video, generating a very short video preserving the essential activities of the original video captured over a very long period. For example, a video covering a full day can be summarized in a synopsis only a few minutes long.



For his work in developing this useful software, Prof. Shmuel Peleg of HU’s Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering has been named a Kaye Innovation Award winner. He and other winners will receive their prizes at a special ceremony on Wednesday during the current HU board of governors meetings. The Kaye Innovation Awards have been given annually at the HU board of governors meetings since 1994. England’s Isaac Kaye, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, established the awards to encourage HU faculty and students.

The invention can help even for those who are able to dedicate enough manpower to review long segments of video surveillance materials, since studies indicate that human operators lose their attention after about 20 minutes when watching such videos. Rapid apprehension of the man who recently tried to set off a car bomb in Manhattan’s Time Square was a sensational example of the benefits of surveillance cameras. However, since video browsing and retrieval in the millions of cameras is time consuming – involving sometimes days or weeks of review – most recorded video is never watched or examined.

Video synopsis separates between the static background and the moving objects (also called events). The short synopsis is made possible by simultaneously presenting multiple events that have occurred at different times. Synopsis user can view all events in a very short time and, when necessary, can revert to the original video for further examination. Peleg’s invention has been patented by the university’s R&D company Yissum and licensed to an Israeli startup company, BriefCam Ltd.

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