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Look - File mode, Arabian plates

.: LOOK - Description

LOOK System is the personal computer (PC compatible) application, running on MS Windows operating system. The version for Linux is available for specific run modes, too. Required hardware is a powerful workstation, like Intel Core class CPU, 3 GB RAM, 100 GB HDD. Less powerful hardware can still be used, yet slowing down the processing slightly, what couldn't matter in many situations, especially with mobile hardware, where low power consumption is most important. The computer has to be equipped with one or more interfaces from PCI, USB2, RS232, ExpressCard, PCI Express and Ethernet.

Look System is based on the recognition platform, called Carmen ANPR engine by ARH, Inc. This is the pioneer and world leader in the ANPR technology. Because of this, together with long year experiences, as Look System's history counts since 1998, the results are most reliable, which can ever be achieved. Firebird database engine is typically used for data. But the database platform can vary depending on current functionality (customer) mode. 

The Carmen ANPR engine uses specialized hardware component, called Neural Network Controller (hardware key, NNC).  The engine license is bound to the specific piece of the NNC, the type of license enables the engine mode, which can be used. Without NNC no recognition can occur.

About Neural Network Controller versions and licensing

The PCI version of NNC (FXVD4)

integrates hardware key on single board with a video capture device with 4 BNC video inputs. Type of license can either be Parking (P) for 1, 2 (Lane 1, Lane 2), or 4 and more cameras, or FreeFlow (F).

  • Parking license is cost - effective and is dedicated for slow moving or stopping vehicles, recognized exclusively from analog cams (NOT IP) only in Triggered mode, but the recognition processes for more cams can run in the same time.
  • FreeFlow license is dedicated for the vehicles without speed limitation and for any possible image source, including IP cams. It can work either in Triggered, or in Free Run mode. PCI adapter is often called the Carmen card. Besides of PCI full-height adapter, the industrial version with PC104+ is also available. Limited (L) Carmen card with no license, just giving 4 more inputs is also available.

All other versions - USB2, ExpressCard, PCIe (FXMC USB, Express, PCIe)

can either bear the

  • Parking Digital (P) license - cost effective, for smaller amounts of recognized cars and triggered mode of operation, with one recognition per 3s and no concurrent recognition from more cameras, Parking Digital Dual license is also available, supporting two recognition processes in the same time, or 
  • FreeFlow (F) - same as above - without limitations. 
The video source can be any possible - typically  ANPR - specialized or ordinary IP cams or standalone video capture device supporting ActiveMovie standard, like digital video input over IEEE1394 (FireWire, i.Link) or a frame grabber. ANPR specialized IP cams with infrared illumination (FreewayCam, ParkIt, or FXCAMd 102) from ARH, are natively supported by Look System, including remote controls, like zoom, (auto)focus or change IR flash intensity. Third party IP cams have to support MJPEG over http, or H.264/AVC, over rtsp video stream. These NNC versions are often called Carmen (USB, ExpressCard ,…) dongle.

Typical LOOK System flow of operation

LOOK System works as follows (when in Free Run mode):

  • The computer periodically digitalizes or decodes the image from the camera and analyses the bitmap. The system searches for the area of the registration plate, and, if the area is found - it means the car entered the camera viewpoint, it recognizes individual characters from the area, using a cybernetic classification algorithm, based on neural network technology. The result is a field of characters, their coordinates, and probability of classifications.
  • The subsequent analysis - filtering of one or more following results is performed, based on statistical and geometrical measures. The result selection algorithm parameters can be adjusted to accommodate local installation place conditions, more presets can be used when conditions change.
  • If the result was not filtered out, it is displayed and processed according the current functionality pattern - searched, recorded in the database, image is stored, gate is opened,...

LOOK System operation modes

Free Run mode - Carmen FreeFlow

This mode recognizes every captured image, one after another. This is needed when no option is available to select the images with the cars, for instance when the camera is moving. Because of setup simplicity, this is the preferred mode for mobile applications. Frame processing time is - depending on contents and resolution -  50 to 150 ms with standard engine and up to 500 ms with Latin engine, detecting plate countries and improving the results from country specific knowledge - the same is true for other regional engines (US, Arabic, Chinese,..) and ADR (Kemler, HIN) tables reading.

With more lanes the cameras are swapped one after another. Camera count is not hard restricted, but the reaction time slows when camera count grows. Real-time applications use up to 4 analog or 6 IP cams, when more is needed, or the events are time critical, then more Look stations sharing one database are installed. In the non real-time mode even 20 cams can be processed with one Look System station.

Triggered mode with Carmen FreeFlow – selection of frames to recognize

When camera is fixed and the vehicles are moving fast, the moment, when the plate is within the camera view is very short, there is a need to catch specific frames containing the plate and skip the empty ones. Good option is to use motion detection in the image to detect vehicle presence.

Motion detection algorithm is easier job, taking less time, than recognition, allowing more frames to be processed within a time. The frames with high motion detection level, are stored into the queue and recognized by separate thread.

If slow moving vehicles could appear in camera view, which won't fire the trigger, the Self trigger feature has to be enabled in motion detector options.

ANPR cameras features built in motion detection, which allows to select detection area to exclude other moving objects. Look System can use it instead of internal motion detection algorithm.

Best, but technically most challenging approach is to trigger using hardware based vehicle presence detector, like inductive loop, radar or IR barrier. The signal is connected to a logical I/O unit for serial line (RS232) or Ethernet, or to the ANPR camera logical input. Serial line is the best option, as it cannot encounter a network delay. 


Triggered mode with Carmen Parking engines

The cost effective Carmen ANPR engine versions - Parking engines, are dedicated to the applications with lower amount of recognitions per minute and slower processes. They operate exclusively only in triggered mode. When car arrives to camera view, then the ANPR process has to be started with a trigger, like motion detection event. The engine performs recognition, returns the result and when 3s mínus recognition time elapses, the process is ready for next car. The process repeats the recognition from more following images, so the recognition time is about 300ms.

Analog version on PCI Carmen card (Carmen Parking) is available for 1, 2, or 4 and more cams. The price of license rises with count of supported cameras. Physical appearance of PCI Carmen card is always the same with 4 BNC video inputs. But the license can differ, so with 1 camera (lane) license it is possible to recognize from the camera, connected to input 1, but not from any other input, you can use them to capture overview images. No images can be submitted to the recognition process, but the process itself captures from the input. If more lanes are supported in the license, then more recognition processes can run simultaneously. The speed of vehicles is limited to approx. 15 km/h, the car has to be in camera view during the recognition.

Digital version for IP cams (Carmen Parking Digital – CPD), expects to receive after start of recognition process the sequence of images of the same vehicle, as captured. When recognition occur, the result is returned and after inactivity period the engine is ready again, similar to the analog. The CPD license does not allow to run more recognition processes simultaneously. When another event occur during processing, then the images are stored in the queue and processed when first is complete. Carmen Parking Digital Dual license allows concurrent run of two processes. The vehicle speed is not limited.

The same principle as CPD applies to cargo container code recognition (ACCR) and railway wagon (UIC) code recognition. These applications often take advantage from the fact, that the same code is repeated on more places – like the door, top and sides of a container. More cams can view all places with the code, achieving precise results, despite of possible harm of the code area. Because the codes are painted on non-reflective surface, visible light versions of ANPR IP cams are used.

LOOK System characteristics

The LOOK System is characterized by:

  • real-time work
  • high percentage of reliability – from 95% to more than 99%, depending on the site conditions
  • inherits all advantages of the operating system, like:
    • compatibility and popularity,
    • support of plenty database platforms (Microsoft, Sybase, Firebird, Oracle, MySQL) and connectivity options,
    • multitasking  and multithreading - simultaneous run of more apps  and more independent jobs within one app,
    • user-friendliness and well-known usage principles,
  • modular solution
  • recognition of registration plates from all European, and most other countries, light and dark background of the plate and two lines of text are supported and processed properly,
  • recognition of more cars on one view, giving the possibility to scan more traffic lanes with one high definition cam,
  • functionality adapted to customer's needs and processes.

Advantages of the LOOK System

By using the LOOK System, you can enjoy the following advantages:

  • automated and personalized solution,
  • high efficiency of the recognition engine,
  • saving time and resources, compared to other technologies,
  • reducing human-factor errors,
  • protects your property additionally with cameras and the overview photographic records,
  • the results can be used for more purposes, with native support of data export and import to Excel and text files,
  • easy connection with current technologies like G3 mobile data, or GPS,
  • native support and remote control of the ANPR IP cams by ARH (ParkIt, FreewayCam, FXCAMd) with infrared flash illumination, enabling the 24/7 work from full darkness to direct sunlight against camera objective
  • any other IP camera with MJPEG a H.264 (AVC) is supported using standard protocols http and rtsp.
  • Active Movie standard for video capture device is supported, including DV over FireWire.
  • software based motion detector with image queue (triggered mode) for unlimited vehicle speeds, 
  • any vehicle presence detector - inductive loop, IR barrier, connected to a logical I/O unit or logical inputs of the ANPR IP cams can be used as a trigger,
  • direction sense feature allows to view  the vehicles moving both directions and decide who is going in and who out,
  • possibility of simultaneous installation of more ANPR engines enables to support more alphabets and regions in the same time - Arabic, European, US, ...
  • country recognition for entire Europe including Eastern and Russia. It then uses the country information yet for more reading precision,
  • support of Carmen Parking (for analog cams) and  Carmen Parking Digital (for IP cams) cost effective ANPR choice for low traffic applications
  • support of logical inputs and outputs units for RS232  (standard serial line), USB or Ethernet, with potential insulated contacts and inputs to control the gates, barriers, signalize the states with sound or light, and to receive vehicle presence notifications.