Fujinon Shows Off Facial-Recognition Tech

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Fujinon is demonstrating a new auto-focus system based on facial-recognition technology that could potentially make it easier for camera operators to instantly focus and maintain focus on athletes, coaches, and other objects like racecars, goalposts, and nearly anything else.

“The system works by memorizing the object and focusing on the object wherever it goes on the screen,” says Dave Waddell, Fujinon marketing manager, broadcast and communications products division.

There are no current plans to introduce the technology, but Fujinon is showing it to interested partners and gathering feedback on how the system could become a product reality.

In terms of introductions, the new XA50X9.5B ESM HD telephoto lens tops the list for sports broadcasters and mid-level TV stations and networks. Designed to work with ENG-style ⅔-in. HD cameras, the cost-effective XA50X9.5B ESM is priced at $66,000, placing it well below similar options, as well as Fujinon’s 42x lens.

The 45-lb. lens features an integral camera supporter that requires no additional lens support, for a considerable cost saving compared with designs that require a buildup kit or separate camera/lens support.

“It’s aimed at smaller-market and flypack systems,” says Waddell. “A 50×9.5 lens is nice for most sports and widescreen needs.”

The new lens cuts corners without higher-end features like the FIND (Focus Intelligent Network Diagnostics) system, which can diagnose problems with the lens. It also has a mechanical servo back focus and lower-cost hand controls (although larger hand controls can be used with the lens).

NAB attendees seeking a lens that goes beyond 101x will have to look elsewhere, because the long-lens race is over, at least for now. “Most trucks and customers are using 88x or 76x lenses, and only have one or two long lenses,” adds Waddell. “Networks won’t pay extra for long focal lengths.”

One thing they may pay for, however, is a 3D lens system. While Fujinon has nothing formal to introduce for that market segment, it is working with NHK on such lenses.

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