Two new ways of automatically pointing the video camera

In the previous article, we promised to talk about two new ways to implement the automatic PTZ camera guidance on the active participant in the meeting room. This functionality significantly animates videoconferencing and eliminates the need to manually switch the position of the video camera.

Let's remind that in the traditional way the task of autonavigation is realized using the congress system. This solution has already been approved by us and implemented in a large number of projects. In this version, the microphone consoles are used not only for high-quality sound capture, but also for linking the coordinates of the camera's "presets" to the position of the microphones in the room.

Unfortunately, not all meeting participants welcome microphones on the "goose neck", but While all are willing to leave the functionality of the automatic guidance of the PTZ camera. In general, it made us think about solving the problem. And we found two interesting options. Naturally, you do not have to buy Polycom Eagle Eye Director for this, as other integrators would suggest you:)

The first way

So, the first way, let's call it semi-automatic, is based on the use of special "clickers". The advantage of this method in the ability to use a speakerphone or a microphone array in the meeting room, which allows the speakers not to think about where to speak, the voice will be captured in any direction. In general, no "goose neck." To do this, we use a ready-made kit, which consists of the following components:

  • Central unit. It connects to the control port RS232 / 485 of the PTZ camera and transmits control signals to activate its drives. The power it receives through a separate USB input, has compact dimensions and can be hidden behind a video camera.

  • Directly radio transmitters of control signals ("clickers"), which are powered by ordinary AAA batteries. They have on their body a button, by clicking on which the command is sent to select the desired preset for the camera in the central unit and, accordingly, switch the camcorder to the desired position. In theory, "clickers" are assigned to specific seats in the meeting room, which allows you to fine-tune the presets of the camera.

In practice, the "clickers" need to monitor and introduce regulations on their use. For example, on each "clicker" specify the preset number of the PTZ-camera, to which it is "tied", in the same way to mark places at the table. The process of setting up the central unit is trivial and takes 10 minutes for 8 "clickers". The work of the solution can be viewed on the video below.

In our case, a prototype is used, so the appearance of the "clicker" is far from ideal. We would like to know your opinion on this decision. Is it interesting to you, would you use it in your meeting rooms during videoconferencing? Write in the comments!

The second way

The second way is more convenient, reliable and innovative! 🙂 It is fully automatic and does not need the use of separate devices for linking the talking person to the space in the meeting room.

The PTZ camera is guided by voice, namely by "beam" or "rays", which builds an array of microphones, highlighting speaking participants in the room. It's just like adults, just cheaper! The hardware vendors of video conferencing systems (Polycom, Cisco, etc.) have similar solutions, but their cost is measured by several tens of thousands of dollars.

We had to write special software and spend a lot of time to calibrate it to realize in reality this method . So, we present to you UnitKit Medium, which consists of the following components:

  • Phoenix Audio Condor microphone array, which is a 122 centimeter tube, in which is built an array of 15 microphones. Condor is able to effectively capture the voice to a depth of 10 meters, which allows you to completely abandon the speakerphones and wires on the table in a small or medium sized meeting room. It is usually located under or above the screen.

    During its operation, the condor divides the meeting room into 9 sectors and monitors the occurrence of voice sources in each of them simultaneously. It is this feature of the array of microphones that we decided to use to create our solution. Many thanks to the developers of Phoenix for providing an interface to the DSP and adapting the firmware of the device to our requirements!

  • PTZ PTZ camera supporting VISCA / Pelco-P / Pelco-D control protocols. The characteristics of the video camera, such as optical zoom magnification, viewing angle, connection interfaces, are selected in accordance with room dimensions and other parameters [более подробно об этом мы рассказывали в предыдущей статье].
  • Active speakers for room scans. These speakers or speakers built into the TV must be connected to the audio output of the microphone array for analyzing the audio loop and suppressing the echo effect. Another very interesting option for sounding the room is the soundbar Yamaha. To date, this is the only compact solution that is certified with Dolby Atmos technology and delivers excellent sound quality.
  • And most importantly – special. Program CleverMic Tracker, which is installed on a PC (with Windows), which is connected to the USB interface array of microphones and via RS232 / 485 PTZ-camera. Real-time software, using some magic, analyzes and filters the directions of the "rays" created by an array of microphones in the process of communication, to save you from dizziness during sharp and false camera turns. You say, Okay, one coordinate (turn) you got, but how to choose the approach and tilt of the camera? Very simply – they are manually set in the software interface, after calibration, which allows you to match the "rays" to vectors on specific seats at the table in the meeting room.

As a result, it works as follows: Condor determines the direction to the speaker, the software associates it with the vector to the nearest sitting place and gives the command to set the appropriate "preset" to the PTZ camera.

Now we are working on creating a user-friendly interface for the program. The program will be delivered free of charge as part of the UnitKit Medium kit. The next video shows how it works.

Again we are interested to know your opinion: do you like This way of homing? Are you ready to use it in your projects?

You can leave your opinion in the comments to this article or directly to the author of the article, Tatyana Usikova, usikova@unitsolutions.ru