OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Jan. 15, 1997 -- Police, security guards and the public may soon be aided and protected, thanks to a miniature video camera project developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers and licensed by Turtle Mountain Communications.
Instrumentation and Control (I&C) Division researchers from the Department of Energy (DOE) lab have adapted a commercial video camera for easier use by law enforcement by reducing the size of the lens and equipping it with a transmitter that sends the picture to a site up to 100 feet away, such as a police car.
President Preston Leingang of Turtle Mountain Communications of Maryville says the camera will be able to transmit to a remote location, such as a police station, after further development. Turtle Mountain Communications specializes in communications suites for command, control, communication, computers and intelligence systems.
Another key feature of the camera is its disguised lens. The aperture, which admits light into the optical system, has been moved from the middle of the lens mechanism to the front, leaving only a pinhole size opening. "This makes the camera unobtrusive," said co-inventor David Sitter.
The researchers expect to commercialize the camera through a proposal, in a joint venture with Turtle Mountain Communications, to the National Institute of Justice. Their goal is to use a commercial camera with single-chip electronics enhanced with the lens developments in a cost-efficient manner, said Richard Crutcher of ORNL's I&C Division.
Researchers expect the camera to be a little larger than the size of a microcassette case (approximately 1x2x1/2 inches), making it possible to place the cameras in police or security badges and other small objects.
"The technology has been looked at by a number of customers," said Scott McKenney of ORNL's Special Projects office. "Potential user agencies have overwhelmingly been impressed with the technology and consider it to be state of the art."
Leingang sees his company's involvement on this project with ORNL very positively.
"Many people don't see the role that the U.S. government plays in assisting businesses with new technologies," he said. "National laboratories are essential to the future of high technology ventures."
ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram research and development facilities, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corp.