The technology, developed by Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, is called the Imaging System for Immersive Surveillance (ISIS) and works by creating images from multiple cameras and turning them into a single view, according to Homeland Security.
Photographers have been putting together multiple still images to provide a panoramic view of a scene for some time, but that's typically assembled after images are taken. ISIS creates high-res images from multiple camera streams in real time.
ISIS has a resolution 100 megapixels, according to Dr. John Fortune, program manager with the Directorate's Infrastructure and Geophysical Division. Images retain their detail even as investigators zoom in for closer look at something. The system, which looks like a bowl-shaped light fixture with multiple holes for camera lenses, is being used in a pilot test at Boston's Logan International Airport. Airports are among the first places that Homeland Security expects to use the technology, though it would be suitable for other environments as well.
Some ISIS capabilities were adapted from technology developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory for military applications. In collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Lincoln Lab built the current system using commercial cameras, computers, image processing boards, and software.
Even as the first version of ISIS is being tested, Homeland Security is working on a next-generation model with custom sensors and video boards, longer-range cameras that take images at higher resolution, and a more efficient video format.
Longer-range plans include giving the technology infrared capability for night surveillance.