HD video camera tracks rapidly moving objects in real time

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Japanese engineers have developed a high-definition (HD) video camera that can track extremely fast-moving objects in real time.

Because the tracking is based on dynamic mirrors, rather than moving the whole camera, it is accurate to within a few milliseconds.

The system could be used in sports broadcasting, particularly ball sports; detailed scientific analysis of flying birds and insects; or by engineers to assess cars and aircraft in motion.

Noting that high-speed, HD tracking is currently difficult in sports broadcasting, a team at Tokyo University’s Ishikawa Oku Laboratory set about developing the ‘1ms Auto Pan-Tilt’ technology.

The system uses two galvanometer saccade mirrors to automatically control the camera’s pan-tilt angles to keep an object always at the centre of the field — similar to how autofocus functionality can maintain an object in focus.

This allows control of the gaze by up to 60º, at the widest angle, for both pan and tilt. Steering the gaze by 40º takes only 3.5msec.

The team demonstrated the technology during a table-tennis match captured in full HD at 500fps.