PhonéCam: Repurposing smartphones as a high fidelity network camera

Video cameras play an important role in real time collaboration. Single cameras are used for video conferencing. With proper synchronization and calibration, multiple cameras are used for 3D and tele-immersion. With the prevalence of high definition (HD) 2D and 3D monitors, there is a need to consider HD video sources.

Cameras are usually attached to a computer which performs the necessary video processing. Such a setup is bulky. The bandwidth capacity of the interconnect (e.g., USB2, Firewire) also restricts the supported video resolutions.

With a projected 2012 shipment of 642 million, smartphones are rapidly replacing traditional cameras. Modern smartphones are capable of HD video capture. They are designed with good low light capture capabilities for indoor use. Their field of view is optimized for capturing nearby objects. For example, this video compares an Apple iPhone 4S to a $3,500 camcorder. For scenarios in which a fixed focal length video is useful, the smartphone videos are acceptable. A variety of third party attachments provide zooming capability. They are equipped with a high capacity battery, a high speed IEEE 802.11n and 4G wireless network. They use multicore processors with specialized H.264 hardware encoders. These factors make them an ideal platform for portable HD video capture. This project investigates the suitability of using smartphones to replace the camera connected to a computer video capture model.

Technical Contact: Surendar Chandra

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