360-degree video surveillance for U.S. submarines

The U.S. Navy is exploring the idea of 360-degree video, but it's not looking to catch crooks or watch over protected assets. Rather, the Navy is looking at technology from Massachusetts firm RemoteReality for its submarine periscopes.

The tie in with the Navy's need for periscope-based vision is a good fit for RemoteReality, which bills its cameras as tools for situational awareness. The project with the the Office of Naval Research began in February 2007, when the company received contracts to develop this technology in partnership with the Naval Underwater Weapons Center in Newport, R.I.

The RemoteReality technology is a single-lens, single camera solution that uses complex mirrors to provide a 360-degree view that can be processed by software to create a traditional view (also see RemoteReality website for technology overview). According to RemoteReality's CEO Dennis McGinn, the Navy will be testing out one of their high-resolution 12 megapixel visible light omni cameras accompanied with a standard resolution (640x480 pixels) thermal infrared omni camera for use at night. The advantage, says McGinn, is that this omni-view type of technology gives an instant look in any direction for a submarine. McGinn, who joined the company earlier this month, is a retired admiral of the U.S. Navy and once commanded The Third Fleet in the pacific.

The RemoteReality system will likely be installed on a Los Angeles-class nuclear sub this year (it also is developed for the Seawolf-class subs). "This system ... will enable submariners -- skippers and shipmates alike -- to have faster more accurate data about the total surface situation around them," said McGinn.

The RemoteReality omni-view application comes along as the Type 18 periscopes are being upgraded for a video imaging system called SUBIS (submarine imaging subsystem) that links cameras to record the view and provide for image enhancement to aid view analysis.