Camera system automatically keeps fast-moving subjects centered in the shot


July 13, 2012

A table tennis game, and the 1ms Auto Pan-Tilt system's shot of the ball

A table tennis game, and the 1ms Auto Pan-Tilt system's shot of the ball

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A friend of mine who works in television once told me how he was shooting a hockey game, and was impressed with his uncanny ability to keep the puck centered in the shot at all times ... it turns out that the “puck” he was following was actually a speck of dirt on his viewfinder. A new system from the University of Tokyo, however, can automatically follow moving objects such as pucks with amazing accuracy.

Developed by Kohei Okumura, Hiromasa Oku and Masatoshi Ishikawa, the 1ms Auto Pan-Tilt system incorporates what is known as a high-speed optical gaze controller. In the same way that autofocus is able to always keep the subject in focus, this controller can always keep them centered in the frame. It does this not by moving the entire camera, but by rapidly moving a couple of mirrors that the camera is shooting into. One of those mirrors pans, while the other one tilts.

The system utilizes a 1,000 frame-per-second high-speed vision targeting system, hence the “1ms” in the name. This allows the mirrors to react to changes in the subject’s speed or trajectory in no more than 3.5 milliseconds, which is the amount of time required for either of them to move a full 60 degrees, their panning and tilting limit.

The camera used in the system shoots in Full HD at 500 frames-per-second, so it could conceivably find use in televised sports. It is also suggested, however, that it could be used for shooting fast-moving subjects such as birds, insects, cars or aircraft.

Check out the demo video below, in which the 1ms Auto Pan-Tilt system maintains a close-up of the ball during a game of table tennis.

Source: Ishikawa Oku Laboratory via Dvice

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

It's kind of what aa guns do, isn't it? though they have to lead the target so that the bullets will get to the place where the plane will be in a a second or two (or three). I wonder if the actual system is similar (don't know really)

Oded Ya

Actually, no, this is what was missing from the THAD, Theatre High Altitude Defense system upon which the Army spent astonishing amounts of money during the Reagan Administration. The damn thing could not hit a thing because the "targeting system" was no where near fast enough to anticipate the movement of a single pigeon much less an enemy aircraft. So, overall good intentions bolstered by an excessive confidence in research delivering a solution to each component problem. The armored carrier was a stock item, the gun was a Swedish made two barrel high speed rifle, but the computers and the software were never up to the task. Until now. Next, integrate this with a UAV.

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