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.

Thermal Imagers: ZistosHD Dual Mode Thermal Camera vs Thermal Fusion Technology

Thermal cameras have come a long way since 1929 when the first infrared-sensitive camera was invented.  This new technology was initially considered exotic and it was expensive. In the last few years, the cost of thermal imaging technology has come down significantly, although thermal imagers with reasonable image resolution can still be pricey. Thermal fusion cameras, that utilize very low-resolution thermal sensors (80×60), which are enhanced by blending in a standard video signal, can be very inexpensive when compared to medium to high resolution thermal imagers. In certain applications the performance and suitability of images that utilizing thermal fusion can be questionable.

Thermal fusion is achieved when an image from a standard video camera is layered on top of an image from a low-resolution thermal sensor. This produces an image that depicts a black & white or colorized visualization of an object in the field of view of the thermal sensor that is outlined with an edge created from the standard video camera. The two cameras work in conjunction to give you a crude thermal image with enhanced edges. When used in this manner, the low resolution thermal fusion can produce a reasonable and usable thermal image. There are many applications where this approach is effective. It is useful in applications such as inspecting breaker panels, steam pipes, machinery, engines and other inspection applications where there is sufficient light for the standard video camera to produce a good image that can be utilized in the blending process. It also helps to know what you are looking at in advance, this is not always the case in many thermal imaging applications.

Image shows Thermal Fusion under perfect conditions

The shortcomings of this approach occur when the standard video camera that is producing the edge enhancement overlay on the thermal image doesn’t have enough light to create its outline. The image produced by the thermal fusion camera is now significantly compromised and may be of minimal value. Without the outlined overlay from the standard video camera, the thermal image has such low resolution that the image ends up looking like blotches of ill-defined color.  The image may not convey enough detail to make an accurate assessment of individuals and environment. When thermal fusion is utilized in tactical or victim location applications, you may not always have enough illumination for the standard video camera to produce a reasonable image. Additional external IR or white light illuminators will help, but they still might not deliver adequate illumination in all cases. This means that you may not be able to differentiate a partial or even full image of a human, from the background environment.

Image shows Thermal Fusion without enough light to produce outlines

The ZistosHD Dual Mode Thermal Camera (THC-51D-HD) allows the operator to instantly toggle between a 320×256 resolution thermal video camera and a 640×480 resolution, low-light, standard B&W video camera. The B&W video camera also has built in IR illumination that can further assist in low light conditions. Instead of overlaying an outline on top of a low-resolution thermal image, we use a higher resolution thermal camera in the same housing and an even higher resolution B&W low-light camera to switch between the two different images. We believe this construction is superior to thermal fusion for the following reasons.

Images show THC-51D-HD in both Thermal Mode & B&W IR Mode
  • The higher resolution thermal image produces a usable image without the need of any enhancement.
  • The secondary low-light B&W standard video camera can produce a video image that can convey additional visual details of the subject and environment.
  • In the THC-51D-HD, the Thermal and B&W IR Cameras are in the same housing. Therefore, there is no need to switch camera heads. It’s all done with system controls.
  • If the standard video camera in the thermal fusion process does not have enough light to produce a usable image the result is an extremely low-resolution thermal image which can be of limited value.
Left, Thermal Fusion Camera without enough light to produce outlines. Right, ZistosHD Dual Mode Thermal Camera in Thermal Mode in the same conditions.
  • The THC-51D-HD camera’s thermal mode can provide thermal detail regardless of ambient light levels.

All in all, despite thermal fusion being available as a new and low-cost thermal technology it may not be suitable as an imaging tool for many tactical and victim location/rescue missions, or any application where you can’t count on adequate illumination for the standard video camera to function. A higher resolution, standalone thermal image, such as the images produced by the ZistosHD THC-51D-HD camera, will in many instances be of more value than an image produced using a thermal fusion camera.

Locating and rescuing trapped victims is often a race against time…

For victim location operations… details could be the difference between life and death.

Dual Mode Thermal Camera THC-51D (with Audio Listening)*

The Dual Mode Thermal Camera allows the operator to instantly switch between remote thermal imaging and low-light, high resolution B&W video. Its built-in infrared illumination and slim 1.8” (46mm) diameter, as well as its rugged, weather-resistant design make it ideal for rescue missions. The camera housing incorporates audio listening capability.

*Please contact us regarding Int’l Export Regulations for this product.

ExplorerSCOPE ESM

The ExplorerSCOPE™ is compact, self-contained, 4-way articulating video scope with excellent low-light performance, that can generate images of objects and individuals as far as 40+ feet (12 M) away in pitch darkness. It’s a rapidly-deployable search camera system that can be inserted through openings as small as 10mm in diameter to look for victims following a collapse. The unique features of the ExplorerSCOPE translate into a faster search operation which can save lives in time-critical rescue situations.

Talkback Audio Module AAM-TB

The Talkback Audio Module enables rescue personnel to detect faint sounds of trapped victims in life-critical situations. It provides 2-way communication between the rescue team and a trapped victim. It incorporates an omni-directional microphone and an audio processor circuit to amplify low-level sounds and compress high-level sounds. The audio module has a weather-resistant enclosure and rugged, well-padded headphones.

Rescue Reel RR-166LS 

The Rescue Reel facilitates victim location and extrication by providing video and audio access into long vertical drops such as elevator shafts, wells, etc. It’s 166 feet (50M) of ultra low-loss video and audio signal cable spooled onto one portable, compact and extremely rugged reel. The Rescue Reel can also be used to connect a second display.

For more information or a free product demonstration, 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.

Zistos Task Force Rescue System

The Zistos Task Force Rescue System (WS-TFRST) is used by FEMA Technical Search Specialists and other elite rescue teams for expediting victim location during search & rescue missions.

This kit features redundant low light color cameras, a two-way talkback communication device, a display and two articulating poles (one 9 foot and one 3 foot).  The two cameras are low-light sensitive, high resolution, color cameras that are submersible up to 100 feet.  Other optional components are available such as thermal imaging, longer pole lengths up to 40ft, zoom magnification and video transmission.

The system was designed for a single operator and all poles, cameras and audio components are under two inches in diameter for use through FEMA standard two inch, (50mm), core holes.  It allows search teams to optimize time and effectiveness while performing an efficient external recon and an internal search of a collapsed structure.  The system has a backup camera and pole to ensure long operations even if a component becomes damaged.

The extremely portable and modular design allows the kit to be easily hand-carried over the most challenging terrain and be instantly configured on-site to adapt to any rescue scenario.  This inherent adaptability through modular design saves time and, ultimately, lives.

For more information or a free product demonstration, 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.