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NEC Technologies Sharpen Images taken at Night, during Poor Weather and from Long Distances- 24-hour surveillance of large areas in support of public safety -

*** For immediate use December 5, 2012

Tokyo, December 5, 2012 - NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) has developed first-of-its-kind technologies that improve the visibility of surveillance footage taken at night, in poor weather (fog or mist) and from long distances to achieve 24-hour real-time surveillance of large areas.

Recent years have seen a dramatic rise throughout the world in the demand for surveillance images that help to prevent crime and terrorism. Current city surveillance systems, for example, require a large number of telescopic and swivel cameras in order to record footage over wide areas. Footage also has to be reviewed by surveillance staff, and suspicious activity can be overlooked or its discovery delayed when visibility is poor due to darkness, bad weather or long distances.

The 24-hour large-area surveillance technology developed by NEC combines three elements: (1) de-hazing based on visual characteristics(*1); (2) Real-time multiple frame super resolution technology(*2); and (3) large-scale image processing technology(*3). This enables surveillance systems to accurately locate subjects that are in dark, foggy or misty conditions, as well as far away, which is difficult for conventional visual surveillance systems. Furthermore, the large-area surveillance capability of these technologies enables cities to reduce the number of cameras needed to observe certain areas.

This technology incorporates the following features.

  1. Sharpens images taken at night and under poor weather conditions (fog and mist)
    NEC developed de-hazing technologies that sharpen images taken of dark areas and under poor weather conditions, such as fog or mist. Analyzing the visual characteristics of footage, geometrical elements made up of areas with sharp or subtle color changes, such the boundaries between structures and backgrounds, are separated from texture elements made up of detailed patterns. The geometrical elements undergo processing to boost brightness and improve degraded contrast due to poor weather conditions, while the texture elements are subject to processing to reduce sensor noise which is especially prominent in shadows and poor weather. This sharpens images that have traditionally been difficult to see due to nighttime or poor weather conditions.

  2. Real-time super-resolution enhancement of subjects taken with large-area surveillance cameras
    NEC developed real-time multiple frame super resolution (rmSR) technology which uses the image information of multiple frames being recorded to improve visibility by enhancing subject resolution and removing noise. By developing a high-speed algorithm able to perform parallel processing on a many-core server(*4), multiple frame super resolution processing to restore high resolution from dozens of surrounding low-resolution frames being recorded can be performed at roughly 85 times the speed of conventional technologies (*5). This means that the resolution of images can be enhanced in real-time, even when using a wide-angle camera designed for large-area surveillance, which typically features lower resolution than regular cameras.

NEC also combined this technology with existing technology developed to control the execution of analysis processing based on the content taken from surveillance cameras. By reducing processing when people are not present in footage and adjusting processing frequency based on location and time of day, the technology makes it possible to lower processing overhead while maintaining the accuracy of anomaly detection. As a result, large-area image processing can be achieved with fewer computing resources.

NEC will continue driving research into these technologies and working to develop image processing and analysis technologies to accommodate the expansion of public safety projects such as disaster prevention and large-area surveillance.



(*1) Haze is an atmospheric phenomenon in which visibility is lowered due to particles floating in an area. Mist. De-hazing is a form of image processing that improves the picture quality of images whose visibility has been degraded due to mist.

(*2) Multiple frame super resolution is a technology that boosts resolution based on multiple images taken from video in order to magnify small subjects taken with video, making them easier to identify. While the technology has other characteristics such as the effect of reducing overall noise not limited to the subject, due to the high processing load involved, real-time processing was difficult until now (see *5).

(*3) Announced September 4, 2012.
NEC developed large scale video processing technologies that can apply image analysis to a surveillance area three times greater than before.

(*4) Using Express5800/HR120a-1 equipped with two Intel® Xeon Phi™ coprocessors.

(*5) Compared with technology announced November 10, 2010.
NEC Develops Multi-Frame Super Resolution Technology that Restores Fine Detail to Moving Subjects

* Intel and Xeon are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.

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NEC Corporation

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