RFEL Announces Non-linear Image Contrast Enhancement (NICE) module

RFEL has announced the latest addition to its award winning HALO™ eco-system of advanced video processing solutions. The high definition Non-linear Image Contrast Enhancement module (NICE™) reveals poorly defined details in low contrast areas of video, such as those captured in degraded visibility environments (DVEs).

NICE™ can dramatically improve the value of video as it can increase situation awareness; and enhances detection, recognition and interpretation of features of interest. It is therefore a powerful and cost effective upgrade solution for diverse civilian and military applications such as: 24-hour security systems, border surveillance, quality control/inspection and medical screening. 

NICE™ reacts quickly to a loss in scene contrast by allocating the display’s dynamic range on the basis of the underlying scene content. NICE™ achieves this by exploiting the under-utilised regions of the dynamic range, or by sacrificing regions that are unimportant to the user. For example, providing a perfect rendition of a bright sky is unimportant if the user wants to see if somebody is hiding in the shadows.

The ultra-high-speed algorithms and hardware cut processing latency to less than 1ms and it can adapt to changes in illumination in under 100ms, making it ideal for human-in-the-loop applications. Mathematically the processed video does not contain any more information, but most importantly the video is enhanced from a human perspective. 

“Good image contrast is critical in human perception that is primarily based on intensity. Hence, the correct management of scene brightness and contrast can make a significant improvement in the interpretation of images,” explained Dr Alex Kuhrt, RFEL’s CEO.  “This reduces reaction times, thereby increasing the effectiveness of video surveillance and border control.  It also offers improved situational awareness, which is important for the control of vehicles and in combat situations, where a rapidly changing degraded visual environment can threaten security and safety. Generic inspection and quality control screening tasks, such as those encountered in engineering or medical applications, may also benefit from NICE’s high-speed enhancement techniques.”

The NICE™ algorithm is comprised of two operating modes: low light and normal daylight.  The low-light mode is specifically optimised to maximise the contrast of features that are too dark to see.  The daylight mode provides contrast enhancement throughout the whole visual range and therefore improves the identification of both dark and bright features. Controls are provided to switch between the modes at run-time, or NICE™ may be operated in a mode that automatically switches between them.

NICE™ is available in several form factors: an IP core, a system on a module, or as a complete integrated solution for in-line video correction.  It is easily integrated along with RFEL’s range of Video Processing IP modules.  It has been highly optimised for System-on-Chip devices, such as Xilinx® Zynq®, Kintex® and Artix®.

The NICE™ module is being launched at the  2016 Security & Policing show on stand number E21 at Farnborough FIVE, UK on 8-10 March 2016. 




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