This information on Time Stamping was provided by our valued supplier ITS (Instrumentation Technology Systems). It is a clear explanation on their equipment, their history, where it is used and how their video-data fusion tools assist different industries.
Instrumentation Technology Systems, as the name implies, is focused on the delivery of equipment that collects data.
Correlating Data to Images using Time Stamping
When testing the performance of machines or even people, data collection is often more than just numbers, but also pictures. Correlating data to images can be a mission within itself. One obvious piece of data that is important to capture in a testing environment is when a picture is taken. ITS video inserters have been time stamping images for test ranges for over 30 years.
Time Stamping to HD Video
In 2011, we brought precise time stamping to HD video. With our equipment, time stamping is accurate within 1-2 microseconds. Such accuracy is highly important when one desires to create true models of behaviours.
Where Time Stamping is used
Every military test range in the US is using ITS equipment because of our tested and proven time stamping. These tools are in use at Yuma Proving Grounds, China Lake, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Dugway Proving Grounds, NASA Glen, NASA Langley, NASA Armstrong, and the Navy’s Atlantic Test Range, Stennis AFB, Edwards AFB, Nellis AFB, Eglin AFB, Vandenberg AFB and many more. We also supply SpaceX, Blue Origin and Viasat, who have discovered great applications for our products. Our equipment is integrated into products delivered by L3 Brashear, Northrop Grumman, and PVP Advanced EO Systems.
Customisable Engineering Test Data into HD Video using Metadata
In 2012, ITS introduced the ability to place customisable engineering test data into HD video frames using metadata. The benefit of this feature is the ability to sample data along with video in real time. Snap a picture frame, stamp the instant it was taken and snapshot data at the same time (speed, RPM, braking, steering input, etc.). You can collect data from any measurement device connectable to a PC. Our current engineering customers find this feature indispensable when analysing behaviours and developing behaviour models for anything from GPS equipment to gas expansions.
Time stamped uncompressed images with HD-SDI Video Recorder
In 2015, we introduced our HD-SDI video recorder to address our current customer’s needs. This recorder only captures uncompressed images. For engineering tests, it is often important to look at single snapshots to observe the instance of an event or a sequence of an incident. Recording in compressed video formats inherently compromises detail (quite a lot if high compression is used). Compression can add artifacts to an image that did not exist and mask artefacts that did exist, causing elements that may be important to be lost forever.
Video Data Fusion
The recorder, which we call our Fusion Video Recording Instrument (VRI), merges the ability to capture time stamped images from a camera and sample incoming data in the instant that each frame begins; video-data fusion. The benefit here is a permanently synchronised record of images and relevant data about an object. The possible applications are limitless.
Another benefit we offer is “clean video”. While data can be captured with video by overlaying it on the frame, it can clutter an image and obscure something important. Our metadata capabilities allow the user to maintain collected data on or off the frame, with the option to add or remove selected data at any time. Thus, the user has total control without losing detail.
Ability to event record
From there, we added the ability to event record. A single test can consume many hours, but the important instances are short and may be frequent. With our event mode, one can start the recorder anytime, and signal when an important event has occurred. The recorder will capture only the specified pre-event and post-event time resulting in event capture with embedded metadata and without the extra footage. This is a valuable time saving tool, as one does not have to search through hours of video and data to find what is relevant and sync it for analysis.
Downloading the Uncompressed Clip
Engineers and technicians don’t need to drive out to the Fusion SRI to get the uncompressed video/data. The VRI can download the uncompressed clip with its metadata over any Ethernet Connection. ITS offers a software product to simplify this task – DownloadVideo©. Once this software downloads a clip to a PC, each clip can immediately be viewed along with the data collected.
Viewing Recording Frame Rate
Viewing can be at the recording frame rate or ½, ¼, or 1/8 speed and even single frame stepped. The data stays synchronised frame to frame. You can even search on data to find the frame that applies to a value or a particular field. The software packages will also convert all of the data collected to a file. That may be used by Excel, Matlab or a wide range of other analysis and charting software. An important thing to note is that this Software, DownloadVideo© can transcode clips to an uncompressed AVI file, so you can observe all the detail on the PC, just as if you were playing back SDI using the VRI itself.
Autonomous Vehicle Industry
With new experimental and innovative developments in the autonomous vehicle industry, we expect that engineers will conceive of many unique tests to evaluate performance, behaviour and safety; thus, a standardised method at this early stage is not likely to be known.
The ad hoc nature of developmental and performance testing is an integral part of the test ranges. To which we currently provide our field proven products. We have a set of software tools to facilitate and simplify ad hoc testing which can then be migrated to company or industry standards.
For example, our KLV (metadata) Software Toolkit provides an Excel workbook template that allows one to construct a metadata payload to collect up to 64 independent fields of a variety of data. A custom packet can be created in just 30 minutes. This template, once imported to a system readies the equipment to accept payloads in real time and insert them into the live video stream.
Our DataConcentrator© software captures data from any data acquisition system or sensor that sends its information to a PC. The DataConcentrator© also uses the KeyTemplate© created with the KLV Software Toolkit. With these two pieces and the availability of measurement devices, metadata payloads can be sent to our equipment for insertion into the video stream in real time.
Given that our existing customers are using these features to study machines, properties of materials, and people. We believe these same features and benefits would be of value to this emerging industry where automotive meets advanced technology.
For further information on any of the ITS products, please contact us