Quicker, Better Surveilance

Hebrew University researchers find a way to provide video synopsis.

June 6, 2010 13:01
1 minute read.
Shoppers behavior is recorded by in-store cameras.

Shoppers behavior is recorded by in-store cameras. 311. (photo credit: ron friedman)


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Millions of surveillance cameras around the world are today watching public and private areas around the clock, providing police with a valuable tool for catching perpetrators carrying out criminal acts. Rapid apprehension of the recent attempted Times Square, New York, bomber was a sensational example. 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.

A solution to this problem has been developed by Hebrew University researchers; it is 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 time period. For example, a video covering a full day can be summarized in a synopsis only a few minutes long.

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For his work in developing this highly useful software, Prof. Shmuel Peleg of HU’s Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering has been named a Kaye Innovation Award winner. The invention provides a solution 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.

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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