The External Monitor Receiver (EMR)

The External Monitor Receiver is an optional accessory to the ZistosHD Pole Camera Systems. It allows users to utilize an off-the-shelf external monitor as a display option to view images generated by a ZistosHD system. The External Monitor Receiver (or EMR for short) is a physically small device that is slightly larger than a thumb drive. It plugs into a standard HDMI input on a TV, Monitor, or other display device and is powered by a USB input that can be sourced externally, or directly from the monitor.

The EMR is preloaded with the ZistosHD imaging application that the user controls with an included remote control. Real-time video that is generated by the ZistosHD system can now be seen on a screen that is large enough to allow numerous individuals to view simultaneously. The EMR receives wireless video and allows the external monitor to be positioned anywhere within the transmission range of the ZistosHD system. The External Monitor Receiver is another one of the optional accessories available in the ZistosHD line of products that expands the capabilities and the usefulness of our video systems.

Call us for more information or to schedule a virtual product demonstration at your convenience. 

The Novelty of New Technology

Technology is always marching forward and there is a constant flow of new high-tech products that hit the market with claims of improved performance and reliability. Some of these product innovations do indeed make a big difference, others utilize new technology in their design implementation and offer no real improvement. The merits of every new design must be carefully considered in the context of the application and its typical application environment. It must be determined whether the new technology actually lives up to its expectation, or if its increased technology and complexity is little more than a novelty.

One of the newer entries into the Technical Rescue Camera System market to be considered is a camera that provides a full 360-degree view without mechanical (neither motorized nor manual) articulation. The belief is that a 360-degree view lets you rapidly determine whether a victim is present or not and with no moving parts, the camera system will be less prone to damage or malfunction.

This seems like a good application for a new technology and the benefits seem legitimate. There are however, some caveats with regard to this approach that need to be considered along with these benefits. This paper will highlight some of the issues that need to be considered when applying this new approach for looking for trapped victims in a building collapse, and how products manufactured by Zistos compare with them.

No Moving Parts and Increased Reliability:

This might be accurate when the 360-degree cameras are compared to some of the systems that utilize mechanical articulation to remotely position their camera head.  The issue in many of these designs is that mechanical articulation requires a motor and gear assembly that could be prone to damage when forcibly back driven. This was a problem for many early entries into the search camera marketplace. The camera assembly would break when the camera head was forcibly positioned. This potential source of failure is easily remedied by a well-thought-out mechanical design that includes a simple component in the drive mechanism. A slip clutch assembly that couples the camera to the drive train can prevent damage to the mechanism if back-driven. The rescue systems from Zistos are designed and built to be rugged and able to withstand the demands of a typical rescue environment. Specifically, Zistos poles have slip clutches to insulate the gear trains from shock, virtually eliminating articulation failure. The advantages of the “no moving parts” claim is not really an advantage over a properly designed mechanical mechanism for articulation. Missing from the claim of improved reliability is that the increase in system complexity to accomplish a 360-degree image involves both additional electronic hardware and system software. The increased electronic complexity and software processing requirements of any system will generally have a negative impact on its overall reliability and the systems MTBF estimates, (Mean Time Between Failure).

The Advantage of Rapid 360-Degree Image Assessment:

Another claim regarding 360-degree cameras is that they provide an instant, 360-degree view without the operator having to pan an area of interest. This supposedly saves time and allows for faster response time.  The quick, overall view may save a few seconds of search time; but what is more important in a technical rescue search is image quality. With a 360-degree image, subtle signs of the presence of victims can easily be missed. Much like the popular children’s game, “Where’s Waldo”, there can be too much visual information in a 360-degree image. This could prevent an operator from properly analyzing the image and keep them from making a fast and accurate determination of the presence of a victim. The methodical, close up panning available with Zistos rescue systems will reveal subtleties that cannot be seen with a quick, distant overview. In addition, Zistos offers a zoom camera that provides 10X optical zoom, not the limited digital zoom with poor resolution available from 360-degree cameras.

Many of the 360-degree camera systems do offer a pan and digital zoom function that is software dependent. This method degrades the image quality by reducing the resolution of the image when you need to zoom in and pan the area. Some manufacturers of 360-degree camera systems even suggest that to achieve meaningful zoom resolution, their camera must be physically moved closer to the target area. This task is not always easily achievable in many collapse scenarios.

Illumination Concerns and Thermal Imaging Options:

Illumination is another problem with 360-degree camera systems. It is very difficult to create well balanced, even illumination about the 360-degree field of view of a camera. This creates light and dark areas in the video image. This is more of a problem the further away you need to look into the void space and away from the camera head. It would be very easy to miss a subtle tell-tale indicator of a trapped victim if the area happens to be in a dark spot in the field of view. The Zistos systems produce a powerful beam of light that moves coincident with the camera. This eliminates dark areas in the video image and allows the operator to see the important visual clues that may be present indicating the presence of a trapped victim. In addition, Zistos systems have a thermal imager option. This option can show a victim’s heat signature even when covered in concrete dust or mud. These victim images may not be visible on standard video cameras and most 360-degree camera systems do not offer a thermal option.

Wireless Transmission Issues:

A 360-degree system design disadvantage that can be particularly serious is the location of the system transmitter. With most 360-degree systems, the transmitter is in the camera itself. The camera is attached to a pole and then inserted into the unknown environment. This will work without issue in a lab setting, or even in a collapse with debris that is mostly wood. If the environment that is being searched has a lot of metallic debris such as you would find in the collapse of a structure that contained metallic debris from building construction materials, heavy machinery, and even banks of file cabinets, the video transmission can be compromised or even lost as the camera passes into a void space in a rubble pile. The Zistos systems are designed with the transmitter located in the handle which resides outside of the unknown environment that is being inspected. This eliminates the chance of radio frequency interference from metal debris that can block radio signals and minimize, or negate the usefulness of the search tool.

Multi-Person Viewing and Operation:

Other advantages to a Zistos system include the ability for our images to be viewed simultaneously on multiple tablets; many 360-degree camera images can be viewed on only one tablet at a time. In addition, 360-degree systems offer only a nearly 10” tablet. This can make some operations difficult for one person to handle alone. Some companies suggest that two persons may be needed – one to operate the pole or camera, and one to view the images and operate the controls.  Zistos offers not only a 10” tablet, but also a 5” tablet, making it easier for a single individual to conduct a meaningful and effective search.

Summary:

While the concept of a 360-degree camera can be intriguing, some of the claims of operational advantages need to be scrutinized. Their actual application in real-world conditions can be problematic and the novel nature of their design may not actually yield a more reliable and improved search tool. The increased complexity involving electronics that requires special software, illumination issues, wireless transmission issues, confusing 360-degree images and poor resolution zoomed images could be a detriment. The latest generation search tools from Zistos can offer a more usable and field reliable victim location solution. The principal function of a video-based victim location tool is to provide a technical search team with a meaningful and reliable image of conditions in locations that are inaccessible, or dangerous to enter. A camera’s usability, reliability and image quality can be the key to the success or failure of a rescue mission.  Up close, high resolution images – with the availability of 10X optical zoom, thermal imaging capabilities and reliable operation in any environment – are what are needed. These are what Zistos offers.

For more information or a no obligation product demonstration, Virtual or In-Person, please don’t hesitate to reach out by phone: (631) 434-1370, email: info@zistos.com or website: www.zistos.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Benefits of Motorized Articulation and Optical Zoom in Victim Location Operations

ZistosHD Victim Location Systems are wireless, high definition systems designed to help operators facilitate victim location operations following building collapses, natural disasters or other search and rescue missions. All ZistosHD systems are modular and different system configurations are available. The systems can be custom configured with different poles and camera technology to best fit the needs and budget of a USAR team.

The ZistosHD Victim Location tool combines the ZistosHD handle, a wireless HD tablet display and can be configured with a telescoping, motorized carbon fiber pole, and a 1080P, self-illuminating, 10X optical zoom camera. When configured with a ZistosHD 10X Optical Zoom camera (WPC-2.5Z-HD) and Motorized Articulating Pole (HDP-MCXX) you get the perfect tool to assist operators in both rapid search assessments and methodical grid searches.

This zoom camera has a 10 times optical zoom which does not lose ANY resolution when magnifying the image. This is unlike many of the search cameras on the market that utilize digital zoom functions. Digital zoom technology will typically lose resolution as soon as you begin to magnify the image.

The system can also be configured with full communication capabilities that allow the operator to hear the subtle sounds of a victim and communicate back to them with audio. Multiple ZistosHD display tablets can be used to view the image from a single system. This allows members on the USAR team to view images in real-time that are related to a victim location operation.

The telescoping, carbon fiber pole features a motorized articulation camera mount which is remotely controlled using the handle buttons or touchscreen controls on the wireless display. The articulation feature allows the camera head to pan, +/-120 degrees. Pole lengths available for ZistosHD motorized articulating, telescoping poles are 6ft (1.8m), 10ft (3m), 16ft (4.9m), 24 ft (7.3m), and 30 ft (9.1m). The articulation speed of the motorized assembly can be adjusted to best fit the nature of the search application. This is of benefit when it is necessary to slow down the camera pan function to conduct a detailed grid search for victims, or keeping quick articulation for rapid search assessments of a void space. The motorized head can be auto-centered by double tapping the center button on the control handle for ease of extraction from an insertion point.

Batteries are also a strong point for the ZistosHD systems. The rechargeable battery runtime for the system can last from 6-10 hours, and the systems include two batteries each.

In conclusion, a ZistosHD Victim Location System with a motorized pole and 10X optical zoom camera   has all of the features to maximize success in victim location operations. All ZistosHD systems are modular and systems are available that can be custom configured with different poles and camera technology to best fit the needs and budget of a USAR team.

Zistos Backwards Compatibility Philosophy and the WXMT-WiFi Module

Zistos Corporation has always tried to keep a philosophy of backward compatibility for any new product that we have ever released. Our feeling is that our customers should not have to throw out their old model product when a new one becomes available. The backwards compatibility design philosophy has allowed our customers to build on their previous investments in our technology and add additional capability to their existing Zistos video tools.

This strategy was possible to implement from a design standpoint, because for many years the analog video technology remained the same across the spectrum of video systems and accessories designed and built by Zistos Corporation. This all changed with the introduction of the ZistosHD line of products. These wireless video systems were designed around digital HD video technology. Digital video has many benefits over analog systems, such as the increased resolution and its ability to transmit encrypted video to other displays and across networks. The very nature of the digital video signals makes them inherently incompatible with our older analog systems.

This is why we designed our WXMT-WiFi module for our older systems that may still be in use by our customers and still have many more years of use left. The WXMT-WiFi module acts like a bridge between our older systems and our newest ZistosHD systems. The WXMT-WiFi can plug into the video output of our older analog WalkAbout display. The device digitizes the analog video and makes it compatible with the newer digital displays that are used on our newest ZistosHD line of video products. This allows the older systems to still have value and allows them to be used to generate wireless, encrypted, digital video images that can be viewed on our wireless 5” and 10” displays.

Our WXMT-WiFi module was designed to provide a way for customers with older systems to benefit from some features of the ZistosHD advanced technology, without having to make a significant investment in an entirely new system.

Features of WXMT-WiFi Module:

  • Small accessory that allows for the connection of wireless HD Tablets to the wired WalkAbout system.
  • Creates wireless a network and allows for the addition of up to 3 HD tablets (running ZistosHD application) in addition to the WalkAbout monitor.
  • Works with ANY Zistos WalkAbout system and connects to ANY ZistosHD Tablet.
  • Connects to our StealthSCOPE & ExplorerSCOPE as well.

Benefits of WXMT-WiFi Module: 

  • No additional system batteries or components required. Only the WXMT-WiFi Module and an HD display.  
  • It allows for a dedicated observer that is focused on the image to decode and report what they see to the operator from afar.
  • The HD tablets, used with the WXMT-WiFi, will work with any future ZistosHD gear purchase.
  • Whether looking for a suspect in a dangerous location, searching for a victim in rubble, checking cargo and vehicles for contraband or industrial inspections, having an untethered second set of eyes is always beneficial.

5 Reasons to Use ZistosHD Rescue Tools

1.        High Capacity Batteries
2.        Motorized Articulation
3.        Low-Latency Video  
4.        Wide Array of Interchangeable Accessories
5.        Connectivity to External Networks

High Capacity Long-Lasting Batteries

Rescue teams are often positioned in out-of-the-way locations and in time-critical situations. Being able to quickly swap out a battery and know it will last for the duration of a much-needed rescue mission is vital. 

ZistosHD Rescue Systems all use long-lasting, rechargeable Smart Lithium-ion batteries. The Extended Capacity Battery (BAT-15XL) is included with all of the ZistosHD Rescue Systems. The BAT-15XL can typically run for 6-12 hours, depending on camera options and illumination settings. The battery also has an easily viewable, built-in five segment LCD charge level indicator, which displays the charge level even when it is not connected to the system.

Articulating Motorized Poles

Lightweight, easy-to-use rescue tools are essential for technical search teams. The ZistosHD telescoping poles offer the flexibility and durability needed for real-life conditions.  The HD motorized series are weatherproof, lightweight carbon fiber poles, which makes using them excellent for extended time, and in any environment. 

The ZistosHD motorized poles allow the operator to adjust the camera position remotely. This is important when the pole is extended and the camera is not accessible to the operator, or it is inserted into a collapsed structure or void space in rubble.

These poles terminate with an articulating camera mount and enable the operator to remotely rotate the camera to pan +/- 120°. The motion is controlled using the buttons on the HD Handle, or using the touch screen controls on the display. The operator can control zoom, video capture, illumination and more. The HD Poles use easy twist collars to expand and collapse, and are available in lengths from 3 to 30 feet. Unlike many existing articulating pole cameras, our camera has a specially designed slip-clutch that provides protection against damage to the motor assembly if the camera is forced backwards when in use.

Low-Latency Wireless Video Streaming

For rescue missions, low-latency video supports operations that require near real-time access to quickly changing conditions. Many other digital video systems are plagued by slow response that can create a delay of many seconds between the event and the viewable video image. The low-latency performance of the ZistosHD systems allows the video images to be viewable without a significant delay.

The system can also be utilized in a wired configuration when wireless operation is not feasible. The ZistosHD system will directly support up to three different wireless viewers concurrently. The encryption of the video stream helps ensure that sensitive information will not be intercepted by unauthorized parties. The system supports WPA2-PSK (AES) encryption for secure video transmission. It also can be configured for fully-wired operation for situations where wireless operation is not practical. The system’s video is also compatible with commonly used ATAK compliant external radios.

Wide Variety of Interchangeable System Options

ZistosHD’s modular design allows maximum flexibility for the rescue team in the field. One system can be configured to serve multiple applications, and added to as needs arise. Interchangeable poles — different types and lengths — can be paired with an array of camera technologies such as ultra low-light, 10X zoom, and dual mode thermal that generates both standard B/W video and thermal imaging. Maximizing the usefulness of a system also enables rescue departments to get the most from their investment in Zistos equipment. ZistosHD components are deliberately designed to be compatible with new and future system options.

External Network

Video images can be shared with others to view situations as they unfold in real-time, on multiple displays. Zistos offers an optional WiFi network bridge attachment, which enables multiple ZistosHD systems to be simultaneously viewed on a single computer via a common external network at a command location.