Boxx.tv is to launch a low-cost, long-range, low-latency wireless camera links system at IBC that is currently undergoing beta testing for horse racing coverage, writes David Fox.
The new Zenith system can cope with distances of up to about 1km with less than three frames delay. It uses H.264 compression and will use the next generation of technology that won Boxx an Emmy award in 2005.
It can save money by using low-cost 5GHz access points that can be deployed for about £200-£300 each, and uses cheap Cat5 cable plus IP networking protocols and hardware to get HD signals back to the decoder. Users could potentially have hundreds of access points for a single decoder.
Some of the APs have three radios in them, which would allow three cameras to access it at once, but there can be multiple APs in any location, all wired by Cat5. However, there needs to be a decoder for each channel.
On a location shoot, where you have four cameras, there could be four APs in each room, but if there is an area where you know you’ll only use one camera at a time, you could have one AP programmed to work with any camera. Each AP could work with more than one camera at a time, but with reduced bandwidth for each.
“It’s completely expandable. You can program it to do pretty much what you need it to do,” explained Scott Walker, Boxx.tv’s CTO (pictured).
He believes it would be ideal for use in a sports stadium or even more widespread events. Indeed, it is being beta tested at the Selangor Turf Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to provide on-course coverage and output for satellite horse racing channels.
The furthest starting point at the course is 900m from the Grand Stand (where the access points are), which requires the use of a directional antenna on one AP. A wide view (120º) sector antenna is used on another AP to cover the whole of the far side of the course (other than the start). The system automatically switches as the camera moves from one position to another (there is only one mobile camera being used).
There is also an AP near the parade ring and a further portable AP can be plugged into the internal Ethernet network for covering press conferences or interviews in the main buildings. The system could easily be expanded with Cat5 cable and another AP. Boxx also has another two prototypes being trialled with various clients in Europe.
Zenith has two antennae on the back of the camera (compared to four on Boxx’s zero-delay, short-range, uncompressed Meridian system). Both systems use MIMO, but Meridian uses four transmit and five receive antennae, whereas Zenith has a 2×2 system. Zenith sends its compressed images at 10-15Mbps, while Meridian is well over 500Mbps. “The trade off is distance or latency,” Walker explained. Zenith should ship by the end of the year.