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SAS2018: Video Quality Enhancers from ZMicro

US Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition Day 1 (9 April 2018) Start of Day Report

Delegates at this Navy League Exposition have the opportunity to view a range of fielded and new products from ZMicro. The San Diego, California-based company will be demonstrating its real-time video enhancement capability and associated Insight products. “The Insight products are stand-alone solutions designed to support implementation of our algorithms in a customer’s existing systems’ architecture. Our team will demonstrate the dramatic improvements that can be made to video quality by bringing out visual details that help the user obtain more value from their existing video,” explained Jason Wade, the company’s President.

As significant, ZMicro will also be demonstrating for the first time, its latest algorithm for its Insight Product Line – Adaptive Temporal Noise Reduction (ATNR). Mr. Davis explained ATNR can enable the user to gain more value from their video through advanced noise reduction techniques. “ZMicro’s ATNR algorithm reduces video noise but does not smear or distort moving objects, which is a common problem with other implementations. The algorithm averages multiple frames together to reduce noise, but still provides high quality video by detecting the moving items in the video and applying advanced processing techniques to prevent distortion.”

Another key product that the team will be presenting is its new ZM3 Rugged Computer, which is designed specifically to minimize size, weight and power for airborne ISR applications. The ZM3 is built to provide advanced compute capability in the smallest form-factor possible. “It leverages COM Express Type 7 modules to offer full server capability in small, rugged packaging,” Mr. Davis pointed out and continued, “The ZM3 incorporates two ZMicro TranzPak 1 compact removable M.2 NVMe [non-volatile memory] SSDs [solid-state drives] for high capacity and best-in-class storage performance. In addition to a 16-Core Intel Xeon D processor, the ZM3 has support for a x16 GPU [graphics processing unit], up to the NVIDIA Quadro P6000 GPU and a x8 encoder card for video ingestion.”

The company’s portfolio has been harmonised to meet recent and expected end-user requirements in the maritime domain and elsewhere. “Over the last year we’ve observed the Navy transition away from the purchase of lower priced, commodity driven computers to purchase more specialized, mil-tailored systems. In part, this is due to increasing Cyber Security requirements. Specifically, there is a reemergence of TEMPEST requirements for increased protection of computers and displays,” the industry executive recalled. Additionally, there are new requirements focused on increased security of storage with data at rest encrypted storage requirements. ZMicro is seeing the Navy mandate requirements that are not achievable in semi-rugged systems. “A higher level of design expertise and customizations are required to achieve the security and environmental requirements specified into Navy programmes,” Mr. Davis emphasised.

ZMicro’s technology is used in two key Naval Programmes to dramatically improve the video quality to enable system operators to make more informed and more timely decisions in real-time: in the Raytheon Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) to provide video clarification on incoming targets and in Insitu’s (a Boeing company) BlackJack (US Marine Corps small tactical UAS) for improved battlespace awareness. The industry expert pointed out, “Naval environments are notorious for producing sub-optimal video. There is frequently fog or haze that produce such a low contrast viewing environment that it is difficult for the human eye to perceive any details in the video. The lack of clear visibility presents an immediate need for the Navy to improve video quality for programs that rely on video to make mission critical decisions.”  ZMicro’s video enhancement technology uses advanced algorithms to identity subtle variations in pixel values that are detected by computers but difficult to see with the human eye. “Our technology brings out video details for CIWS and Blackjack operators to provide them improved visibility and situational awareness to support higher confidence in mission-critical decisions,” Mr. Davis concluded.

Further, ZMicro is involved with a wide variety of military programs around the world. However, due to confidentiality requirements the company was not at liberty to discuss those for which contracts have not yet been awarded or announced.

Marty Kauchak

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