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Press Release
                        Media Contact:-
                        Aston Bridgman
                        NEC Corporation
                        TEL    : 81-3-3798-6511
                        FAX    : 81-3-3457-7249
                        E-mail : Aston_Bridgman@HO-PRD.ccgw.nec.co.jp

*****For immediate use May 19th, 1999

NEC Develops Camera for 360-degree Images on the Internet

[Camera for 360-degree Images]
[Camera for 360-degree Images]
"Camera for 360-degree Images"
"Camera for 360-degree Images"

NEC Corporation (NEC) (NASDAQ: NIPNY) (FTSE: 6701q.l) has developed a high-resolution panoramic camera that can shoot and depict a complete 360-degree image by using a high-speed automatically rotating mirror. The image can then be viewed through the Internet or used for observation / surveillance purposes.

The main features of the new camera include:

  • An automatically rotating mirror to cover the 360-degree image area. Once recorded, the images are then synthesized into one complete 360-degree image.

  • Auto-correction of image curvature and distortion caused by the rotation of the mirror.

Compared to previous panoramic camera designs, the resolution of NEC's panoramic camera is much higher at 2,000 x 300 pixels (picture elements). Since only the mirror rotates, not the entire camera unit, the speed of a single pan is also much faster than systems that rely on a rotating base. The price of the camera is about two-thirds that of previous systems.

These features of the camera make it highly suitable for observation applications where the relatively high speed of the pan (the full 360 degrees rotation) make it possible to monitor entire areas within a very short space of time. Moreover, for Internet and teleconferencing applications, high-resolution panoramic images from the camera can be stored on a server allowing the image and/or the desired portions of the image to be selected and sent simultaneously to users.

Cable networks and the Internet are becoming increasingly popular and there is a demand for use of imaging systems across these networks: online observation systems, Internet broadcasting and teleconferencing systems are all becoming increasingly popular forms of online imaging.

With the growth in the number of homepages from organizations and individuals on the Internet, there is also demand for more interactive online images to be made available. For example, a tourism website may show a panoramic photograph of an entire townscape or landscape allowing the user to see all of the main sites and attractions by simple mouse clicks.

With conventional camera systems that rely on the entire device rotating to capture an image, using a rotational device on the base, it has proved difficult to produce high-resolution images within a short space of time. Moreover, because these conventional cameras can also only be controlled by a single user at a time, other users are not able to control the camera. Because the entire apparatus needs to be rotated, it has also proved difficult to develop conventional cameras with a high-speed pan action at a reasonable price.

NEC took these problems to the research labs and has overcome them in developing an economical 360 degrees panoramic camera capable of high-quality images that can also be viewed via the Internet.

NEC plans to make the camera commercially available at the earliest opportunity and also plans to include features such as image recognition. Other future developments based on this success are being considered and may include an Internet image transmission service and variety of observation systems.

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