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The Evolution of ALPR Cameras


The Evolution of ALPR Cameras

Photo : The Evolution of ALPR Cameras

Inventors rarely create new ideas. In most cases, they simply combine existing ones to create a technology or concept that performs a new function. Automatic license plate recognition combines high-resolution digital photography and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) into what we now know as an ALPR camera. Of course, since the original development of the technology, there have been, and no doubt will continue to be, enhancements to make it even more useful and versatile. Adaptive Recognition, a leading company in LPR cameras since 1991, is one of the primary forces in this ongoing development.This article will examine how all this came to be and attempts to predict how the technology might continue to advance in the future.

The Building Blocks: OCR and High-Resolution Digital Photography

In 1914, Emanuel Goldberg built a machine that recognized individual printed characters and converted them to telegraph dots and dashes.

In the same decade, Edmund Fournier d'Albe developed a device that converted text to aural tones. He named this device the Octophone.

These technologies were further developed and refined through the 20th century to become OCR (Optical Character Recognition) as we now know it, capable of converting images into data that can be read by computers.

Digital photography was born in 1951 when an electronic image sensor was first digitized. Over the next decades, as photolithographic fabrication and semiconductor technology developed, we reached the current state of high-resolution digital photography.

The First LPR Cameras

The first license plate recognition cameras appeared in 1976 when the British Police Scientific Development Branch developed a relatively primitive LPR camera. It functioned only with expensive specialized computer software, under specific lighting conditions and with a very slow-moving target to produce a reliable image. The first recorded instance of the practical application of this budding technology was the identification of a stolen car in 1981.

Continuing advancements in computer hardware and software and the further refinement of digital photography led to ALPR camera as we know them today.

ALPR Camera Applications

Present-day ALPR technology is adaptable to the needs of many different types of organizations. Integration of GPS, artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies continues to expand the possibilities.

In the following sections, we'll look at some of the ways LPR cameras have become integral tools for law enforcement and many types of commercial enterprises.

Law Enforcement and Security

Law Enforcement security organizations worldwide have embraced ALPR camera as valuable tools in:

  • Speed control, one of the essential factors in traffic safety.

  • Identification of stolen vehicles and license plates.

  • Identification of vehicles involved in crimes.

  • Control of access to high-security locations.

  • Border control - ALPR combined with the sister technology, electronic ID scanners, form the backbone of modern international border control.

Toll Collection

Gone are the days when cars had to stop or slow to a crawl to pay tolls. Especially on busy highways, the benefits of high-speed toll collection are many:

  • Improved safety - elimination of traffic jams at toll plazas. These obstructions were major causes of accidents and frustration.

  • More efficient use of personnel. Human toll collectors had boring jobs and were inefficient compared to automatic high-speed collection.

  • Elimination of the eyesores that were toll plazas. They always seemed to collect trash and car parts, and they weren't pretty, even when clean.

Commercial Use of LPR Cameras

Here are a few ways commercial enterprises have harnessed LPR camera technology.

Copenhagen Hotel Amazes Guests with Automated Parking Integrated with Other Hotel Services

When guests arrive by auto at Copenhagen's Tivoli Hotel, having made a reservation online and recorded their license plate number, they're automatically recognized. They're assigned a parking slot, and their entire stay uses automation linked to their plate number. 

Their room is ready for them, and all services are charged to an electronic file. When they check out, they can enter their credit card at an automatic terminal located on each hotel floor. There's no waiting in line at registration desks or for other services. 

New Zealand Landfill Smooths the Experience for all Customers

Whether it's a car with a few bags of trash in the trunk or a commercial hauler dropping off several tonnes of garbage, everyone is treated the same at the Southern Landfill and Recycle Centre in Wellington, NZ.

ALPR cameras, combined with automatic scales, identify each vehicle entering and leaving the site, record its arriving and departing weights, and allow for payment upon departure or automatic billing for those with established accounts.

What's ALPR's Future?

ALPR camera has come a long way since their development in the latter part of the 20th century.

The innovative uses officials and businesses have found for them suggest that imagination is the only limit to where else they can be employed. Imagination will also find other ways to combine technologies not yet envisioned in adding to their utility and versatility.

Adaptive Recognition has demonstrated its leadership in this industry with many innovations since 1991. Most recently, they developed ANPR Cloud, a SaaS application that allows flexibility for operators with capital cost sensitivity and those unsure what their permanent installation should look like.

Since the last century, primitive technological innovations have been combined with each other and with new concepts first to invent, then develop, ALPR cameras to their current degree of sophistication, serving a wide variety of users. It seems inevitable that more developments will ensue, and more adaptations of the technology will come with them.

Look to Adaptive Recognition for the latest developments in LPR cameras and discuss your ideas for your application with their experts. Visit the company's website soon.

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