AVT and Thales Avionics to develop video security systems for commercial aircraft

VICTORIA, British Columbia — Officials at Thales Avionics in Montreal are using data-compression technology from AVT Audio Visual Telecommunications Corp. to develop a new concept of video security systems for counter-terrorism use on commercial aircraft.

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by John McHale

VICTORIA, British Columbia — Officials at Thales Avionics in Montreal are using data-compression technology from AVT Audio Visual Telecommunications Corp. to develop a new concept of video security systems for counter-terrorism use on commercial aircraft.

For the proposed project AVT experts in Victoria, British Columbia, will provide Thales Avionics with video-compression technology called Video-Crunch, which Thales experts will integrate into their product. Thales Avionics specializes in avionics and cabin electronics.

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The new system would integrate a security camera from Thales Avionics — Inflight Systems in Irvine, Calif., and a satellite communication system from Thales Avionics. This system will enable operators on the ground to visually monitor the cockpit and other areas of the aircraft while in flight, AVT officials say.

"We identified AVT over a year ago as a potential technology supplier due to its superior video-compression technology, and its ability to stream quality real-time video from a mobile environment," says Tom Henderson, vice president of business development at Thales Avionics — Inflight Systems.

"The tragedies on Sept. 11 accelerated our plans to develop products that will enable real-time, on-board video in commercial jets," Henderson says. "We are confident that we can map out a development plan with AVT to cooperatively develop a new video security system."

The first phase of the Thales program will put this video technology in the cockpit, and the next phase would extend that capability to the entire cabin, says Keith Bavel, application engineer at AVT. VideoCrunch also enables air marshals to view everything happening in the cabin with handheld computers they use while seated, Bavel says.

Thales Avionics officials say they intend to license and/or purchase AVT's VideoCrunch technology, which, will be developed through a joint engineering project for use on board commercial aircraft, AVT officials say.

AVT produces low-bit-rate video and speech-compression technology and provides products and technology to conduct real-time video over existing cellular and satellite wireless networks, AVT officials say. AVT designs and develops wireless audio-visual solutions, based on the industry-endorsed, interoperable MPEG-4 standard, company officials say.

VideoCrunch transmits one frame every two seconds at a 2,400 bits-per-second rate, which is significant, Bavel says. It uses the QCIF (Quarter Common Intermediate Format) and the SQCIF (Sub-Quarter Common Intermediate Format), he adds.

AVT experts are also looking at making their technology compatible with a facial-recognition system, separately from the Thales program, Bavel says. For example "as passengers board a plane or even while they're on it the camera can take their picture" and AVT's technology can compress the image and relay it via a secure signal down to the ground station, he explains.

AVT designers are just coming out of its research and development phase and say they expect to release their product this fall, Bavel says.

Other applications for VideoCrunch include mobile-monitoring environments such as telemedicine in ambulances, security surveillance on public buses and armored vehicles, as well as personal wireless communications, AVT officials say.

For more information on AVT's VideoCrunch technology contact Tanis MacSween by phone at 250-380-9343, by e-mail at tanis@avt.net, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.avt.net/.

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