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September 12, 2006
For Immediate Release

Media Contact

Michael Buckley
240-228-7536 or 443-778-7536


Johns Hopkins APL Licenses Security System that Instantly Identifies, Tracks Gunshot Incidents

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., has signed a licensing agreement with Planning Systems Incorporated (PSI) of Reston, Va., granting the company rights to APL's patented concept for a gunshot digital imaging system.

Motivated by law enforcement's struggles to gather reliable accounts of the Washington-area sniper shootings in 2002, APL researchers Brett Lapin and Nick Beser designed a system to detect impulse sounds (such as gunshots or explosions) and take pictures of the area where those sounds initiated. The concept consists of a camera, computer and connection to a network, and works in several steps. First, it detects and calculates the range and direction of the sound. Then it slews its camera toward the sound, determines whether the sound was a gunshot, records images of the area, and alerts nearby cameras to record the site as well.

By combining audio-processing and ranging technology with high-resolution cameras, the concept overcomes major shortcomings of current video surveillance systems, which can neither react automatically to sounds nor move to image a random shooter.

"We wanted an imager that could detect the unique sound of a gunshot, work with other cameras to take sequences of images, and then send the pictures to the police," says Beser. "This gives the police a description of the shooter, the car and any witnesses in the area. And, by using a high-resolution digital imager, the system can also provide data with greater detail than conventional video."

"This could aid police during active investigations involving a weapons discharge, a detonation or an explosion," Lapin adds, "and help them to capture perpetrators of these events."

PSI intends to integrate the APL concept into its own acoustic gunshot detection system known as SECURES. The company says a product combining SECURES and the APL technology will help police respond faster to gun-related incidents; not only can cameras be slewed automatically toward a shooter's location, but additional logic embedded in the system can turn other cameras outside of the immediate field of view toward the nearest intersection, neighborhood gathering spot or other points of interest. Other capabilities include automatic alert and display of respective video feeds in an operations center, and automatic storage of related video streams for analysis and forensic evidence.

"This is a great example of a technology that can be added to a law enforcer's toolbox to deter crime and protect valuable assets," says Teresa Colella, technology manager in the APL Office of Technology Transfer. "This agreement ensures that communities will benefit from this technology."

The agreement gives PSI exclusive rights to the APL concept in municipal markets, with an option to license it in four additional markets: worldwide military asset protection; transportation protection; worldwide non-military asset protection; and industrial security.



The Applied Physics Laboratory, a division of the Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.

APL's Office of Technology Transfer facilitates the transfer of APL-developed technology to business and industry, to benefit the public and foster economic development. For additional information on the office, visit www.jhuapl.edu/ott/.