Title:
Remote network video content recorder system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A concept and method for the remote management of and recording of digital video content from a remote IP video camera to an application server via the internet. The recorder system comprises a user device capable of running a user interface, a server running a communications interface, a recorder module, and a digital recording device, and at least one remote IP camera. Upon system initialization, a recorder object and an associated unique ID for the recorder instance are transmitted with the user interface to the user device. A remote user of the device may request a video image from an associated remote camera to be sent to the server where it is recorded on the recording device. The image does not transmit to the user device, minimizing bandwidth requirements on the control side. The server provides a safe, secure and network-optimized environment for capturing the recording.



Inventors:
Kostadinovich, Michael (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/290863
Publication Date:
10/26/2006
Filing Date:
11/30/2005
Assignee:
Pugliese, Anthony V.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
348/E7.071, 386/E5.001
International Classes:
H04N7/173
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
OSINSKI, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Bruce D. George (Blank Rome LLP One Logan Square 18th and Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19103, US)
Claims:
1. A system of safely and securely recording IP video camera content while minimizing network bandwidth requirements and optimizing system settings comprising: at least one IP video camera; a server, comprising: a recorder module which is operatively associated via a first association with a recorder communications interface and which is operatively associated via a second association with a digital video storage device; said recorder module comprising: the ability to operatively associate via a third association with at least one of said video cameras; and the ability to create a recorder user interface relative to the creation of a recorder instance; and a user device which is operatively associated via a fourth association with said recorder communications interface.

2. The system of claim 1, further comprising: an ability to request an initialization of said system, said request being transmitted via said fourth and first associations; and a response to said request by said recorder module comprising: the creation of said recorder instance comprising a recorder object, a unique recorder ID and a user interface; and the transmission via said first and fourth associations of said ID and said user interface to said user device; said request and response enabling said user device to request said video content to be delivered from said at least one video camera to said digital video storage device.

3. The system of claim 2, further comprising a method of recording said video content comprising: said initialization of said system; and recording of said video content comprising: a command received by said recorder module via said fourth and first associations to record said video content of said at least one camera; a command received by said at least one video camera via said third association to open a connection with said camera and to transmit said video content and camera status information to said recorder module; periodic delivery of said status information to said recorder module; periodic delivery of said video content to said recorder module; periodic delivery of said status information to said user interface by said recorder module via said communications interface; periodic delivery of said video content to said digital video storage device by said recorder module; and continuation of said periodic deliveries until said status information no longer indicates that said system is recording, subsequent to which said connection to said camera is closed; an environment associated with said video content stored in said digital video storage device is finalized; and said video content stored in said digital video storage device is converted to a desired format.

4. The method of claim 3, further comprising: checking, upon said closing of said camera connection, to see if said user has requested a new recording; and creating a new recorder instance comprising a new recorder object, a new unique recorder ID and a refreshed user interface if said user has requested a new recording; and repeating, at said user's option, said recording of said video content.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein said video content comprises video images and frame information.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein said server has the ability to optimize system settings.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein said server provides durable system security, reliability and redundancy.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein said user device comprises a thin client utilizing minimum bandwidth.

9. The system of claim 1, wherein said first, second, third and fourth associations exist via the internet.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein said recorder module further comprises an algorithm which may be utilized on its own as a stand-alone application.

11. The system of claim 1, wherein said recorder module further comprises an algorithm which may be integrated into a third-party application.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of Provisional U.S. Patent Application No. 60/673,280 filed on Apr. 20, 2005.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of remote video camera operations. More specifically, the present invention is a concept and method for the management and recording of digital video content from a remote IP video camera to an application server via the internet.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Remote controlled video capture devices comprising analog cameras linked by a dedicated network to camera control devices, monitors and recorders located in a control center are well known as a method of providing surveillance for security of buildings and other facilities. As shown in FIG. 1A, a typical dedicated system comprises a user device 101 running a client application functioning as a user agent 102 which controls an analog camera 103 via a communications interface 104 running on a server 105. Communications channels between these dedicated devices typically comprise closed-network ethernet connections, limiting the scaling of the system to only those devices so provisioned.

Under this closed system, user agent 102 issues instructions 106 A/B to camera 103, which are interpreted via interface 104. The camera returns camera status information 107A/B, among other operational data to user device 101, again using communications interface 104.

The typical dedicated surveillance system further comprises a viewer 108 on the user device and an analog-to-digital converter 109 coupled to a digital video content storage device 110 on the server. Among the instructions 106 issued by the user agent are commands to either view or record the video content captured by camera 103. In response to either of those instructions, video content 111 is sent from the camera to the analog-to-digital converter 109 on the server. If the instruction was for viewing, the video content is formatted for viewing and is sent as video viewing content 112 to viewer 108. If the instructions included a request for recording, the converter 109 passes the converted content to storage device 110 for storage.

Also well known are video systems commonly referred to as “web cams” (not shown) which have been developed to suit more personal usage requirements. These systems are typically simple digital cameras which send their content to a dedicated computer receiver, from where the content is prepared for distribution via the internet to other parties. These are not truly “web” cameras, in as much as they are not truly accessible directly through internet connections. That is they cannot be controlled by a remote accessing party without the intervention of the dedicated computer.

While these systems provide a user the opportunity to manage (in the case of the surveillance system of FIG. 1) or at least receive (in the case of the web-cams) image captures from remote cameras, neither of them provides a user with the ability to control a remote camera to which the user is not directly connected.

There are other systems, as shown in FIG. 1B which provide a remote user 115 with internet access to a remote IP camera 116. The user device (an example of which might be a common desktop PC), comprises an access and control application 117, a digital content receiver 118, a video content viewer 119 and a video content recording device 120. All camera access and manipulation operations as well as video content receipt, monitoring and storage are managed and performed by and on the user device 115. This system, while providing a user with the ability to connect to a remote device via the internet, does not tend to provide “operation critical” deployments needed for surveillance operations. This is because user-device-based camera access and recording embodiments are inherently less stable and reliable than the dedicated systems shown in FIG. 1, in which system optimization and resource management is handled by a dedicated system server 105.

In addition, none of the above systems is extendible to environments wherein a thin client might be employed to remotely manage and even monitor surveillance operations of a group of remote, network-ready IP video cameras, located in diverse geographical locations, and still maintain the capability to record video content from those operations. Therefore, there is a need for improvement in the art of surveillance operations using the developing technology of IP video cameras and thin client/server applications.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A remote network video content recorder system is disclosed comprising a concept and method for downloading, via the internet, IP video content from a remotely located network video camera to a digital video storage device (DVSD) located on an also remote server. The invention further comprises said video downloading under the direction of a user interface which is associated with a recorder communications interface at the server. The recorder communications interface is typically an HTTP-based API for a recorder module, also located at the server. The recorder module creates and utilizes user interface-camera-recorder module associations as well as internet-operable data communications and video transmission channels to effect the transmission and recording of digital video content.

The inventive concept permits a client application, functioning as a user agent on a web-enabled user device, to request a recording of live digital video content taken from an internet-linked IP video camera, and to have that recording made on a digital recording system located on a remote web application server. The recorder system does not require the client application (i.e., the user device) to receive or view the video content, but simply permits the user device to request and control the recording of the video content, transmitted via the internet, to a remote, reliable and secure location.

Under this architecture, a user device, server and any cameras comprising an instance of the recorder system are not operatively associated with each other in a dedicated manner, but become operatively associated with each other at the direction of a user of the user device, based on association algorithms communicated via internet. Thus, the utility and flexibility of the system has the potential to be far greater than that of a closed system of FIG. 1A, wherein the system comprises a limited number of dedicated camera units.

Also, because the client does not have to view or record the video content it is directing the recording of, the inventive concept minimizes bandwidth requirements associated with the remote control of the system. It thus permits the use of thin clients as user agents for exercising that control in applications such as surveillance systems. Options for receiving or viewing of the video content by the user device, if desired, may be exercised by known viewers (e.g., “Quicktime”) which may be associated with the camera and the user device as independent plug-ins.

Also, since the recorder system operates by permitting the remote user to direct recording operations through a server application, the server supporting the application is able to perform overall system optimization and resource management associated with any and all active user requests. Thus, the reliability and efficiency of the recording system operations are greatly enhanced as compared to the traditional recording system of FIG. 1B, which operates from a single remote user device.

The recorder module resides on the server and upon initialization, sends a user interface to a requesting user. The recorder application may be integrated into a third-party application. In this case, the initialization may be initiated via a link embedded within a user agent associated with the application operating on a remote thin client device. Alternatively, the recorder application may exist as an independent application where it may be requested directly, for example from a desktop icon.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Exemplary embodiments of the invention are discussed hereinafter in reference to the following drawings, in which:

FIG. 1A is a network diagram illustrating a prior art implementation of a video content recording application involving an analog camera type in a dedicated server-controlled environment over a closed network.

FIG. 1B is a network diagram illustrating a prior art implementation of a video content recording application involving a digital camera in a remote user-device-based environment over the internet.

FIG. 2 is a network diagram illustrating a generic implementation of a video content recording application involving a digital camera in a remote user-device-controlled, server-managed environment over the internet.

FIG. 3 is a process flow diagram depicting the two primary functional processes of the recorder system: the initialization and recording operations.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

As shown in FIG. 2, the recorder system concept comprises a user device 201 hosting a recorder user interface 202 which is operatively connected over the internet with an application server 203 running a recorder communications interface 204A, a recorder module 204B and a digital video storage device (DVSD) 205. The system further comprises one or more network (IP) video cameras 206 having an IP address, and which may exist at remote locations relative to both the user device and the server. Utilization of the invention comprises permitting a user of the user device to initialize the recorder system, and to request video data captured by the IP camera to be downloaded via the internet to the DVSD where it is saved as a digital recording.

The recorder system may exist as a stand-alone application or it may be operatively integrated as a module into a third-party application. FIG. 2 also depicts a viewer 207 which is independent of the recorder system, but which is shown to indicate options for such third-party systems integration.

The recorder module itself is an algorithm which provides two primary services. First, the recorder module establishes an association between itself, its system camera or cameras and the recorder user interface upon receiving a recorder-initialization request from the user device. The initialization of the recorder system may be requested from within a user agent running on the device (via a link), or apart from it (e.g., by clicking a desktop icon). Second, at the request of a user of the user device, which is delivered via the recorder UI to the recorder module via the recorder communications interface, the algorithm controls the downloading of the media from the camera to the server.

In an exemplary embodiment, the recorder user interface 202 is used to access and control the recorder module after initialization. It sends recorder control instructions 208, via the internet, to recorder communications interface 204. Recorder control instructions comprise recorder module management requests, for example, requests to start or stop the recording, to get status information, etc. The recorder communications interface is a web-based API, which accepts instructions 208 in HTTP format and passes them to the recorder module for processing.

The recorder module 204B processes the instructions and delivers camera control instructions 209, again via the internet, to camera 206. Camera control instructions 209 comprise access and management commands including, for example, instructions to open or close the camera connection, specify the video format (MPEG4, Quicktime, etc.), adjust the frame rate, send camera status information and send video content.

Upon a command from the recorder module (received via an instruction 209) to open the camera connection, IP camera 206 constantly transmits camera status information 210 back to the recorder module. The recorder module receives the camera status information and integrates it into a stream of overall recording status information 211, which it passes through communications interface 204 to user interface 202. This recording status information may include the current frame rate, elapsed recording time, size of the recorded clip, etc., but it does not include video content.

Upon a request to record from camera 206, which may be sent as a recorder control instruction 208 and processed into a camera control instruction 209, the camera sends video content 212A to recorder module 204B. The video content includes live video images, which may be transmitted in the specified video format and quality, as well as frame information associated with each image. The recorder module process the video content and delivers it as processed video content 213 for recording onto DVSD 205.

In an implementation of the recorder being used in conjunction with a third-party application, as shown in FIG. 2, said third-party application may comprise a viewer program 207 which, through a view control instruction 214, requests to view the video content of camera 206. In this implementation, the video content 212B is sent directly to viewer 207. Video content 212B may or may not be the same data, format and quality as that of video content 212A.

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram depicting the two primary functional processes of the recorder. The first process comprises the initialization 301 of the recorder system and the second process comprises its recording operation 302, which may take place after initialization.

Initialization may be initiated at user device 201. In step 303, the device's operative user agent sends a request to recorder module 204B via communications interface 204A to initialize the module. This request may be accomplished by clicking on an HTML link within a user agent directing the request to recorder communications interface 204. The module initializes, creating a recorder instance. Alternatively, a previously established schedule of recording may prompt a request to initialize the recorder system, either from within the recorder module or from within a user agent.

Regardless of the origin of step 303, in step 304 the module creates a new recorder object on the server and assigns a unique recorder ID for the instance. In step 305 the recorder user interface is sent to the user agent along with the new recorder ID (referred to as a “token”). On the server, in step 306, an environment is prepared for the new recording. This environment comprises new directories, a data base and so on. This completes the initialization process. The user agent now displays the recorder user interface, comprising a list of cameras available to the user for recording from and which is ready to initiate and manage a recording from one of them.

To begin the recording operations, the user selects a camera and its desired operating parameters (e.g., position, zoom, quality, etc.) and clicks on the “record” button (step 307). The request to record is sent to the recorder communication interface 204 in step 308. The communication interface causes the recorder module to commence recorder operations (step 309), whereupon in step 310, the requested camera connection is opened.

Once the camera connection is opened, two simultaneous recording operation processes begin and continue until the recording is stopped. The first process, referred to as the status loop, begins at step 311. In this step, the recorder user interface requests status information. This request is made via recorder control instructions 208. If, in step 313A, a check of the recorder status indicates “recording”, the status information is returned via the recorder status information stream 210 where it received and rendered on the user interface 202 in step 312. This status request process continues, beginning again with step 311, until a check of the recorder status no longer indicates that it is recording.

The second process which takes place while the camera connection is opened comprises the actual video recording loop. It begins at step 314 where the recorder module 204A retrieves the next live image and its associated frame information from the camera. Both the image and its frame information is received via video content path 212A. In step 315, the video content is saved on the hard-drive and the frame information is saved in the database opened during step 306. Next, in step 313B, the recorder status is again examined. If the recorder is still recording, the process returns to step 314 where it continues the recording process as described above. If the recorder is no longer maintaining a status of recording, the process completes.

When the recorder status is no longer “recording”, either because the user has terminated the recording or because a scheduled recording time (a feature accessed via the recorder user interface) has expired, both the status loop and the recording loop terminate. Upon termination, the overall recording operation process passes to step 316, wherein the camera connection is closed.

At this point, the process finalizes the video clip environment (step 317) and then in step 318 converts the clip to a format selected by the user via the user interface 202. Also, at this point, the process holds, pending a request for another recording.

In step 319, the process checks to see if the user has clicked the “new recording” button on the recorder user interface. If so, the process proceeds to the creation of a new recorder instance. In step 320, the recorder module creates a new object and recorder ID. Then in step 321, new token is sent to the recorder user interface as it is refreshed on the user device. Then, as in step 306 above, at step 322, the environment is prepared for the new recording. The process then passes back to step 307 where the recording operations begin again.

Because many varying and different embodiments may be made within the scope of the inventive concept herein taught, and because many modifications may be made in the embodiments wherein detailed in accordance with the descriptive requirements of the law, it is to be understood that the details herein are to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.