US 20050041964 A1
A motion detector camera including a housing having a mounting member in a bottom surface for mounting the housing to a tripod, the housing having an film advance mechanism for automatically advancing a film of the camera after each exposure. The camera includes a wide angle lens attached to a front surface of the housing, a motion detector attached to a front surface of the housing, and a flash attached to the housing and having a range of at least 23 feet. The camera also includes a controller for controlling the flash and a shutter of the camera, wherein the controller receives a signal from the motion detector indicating a triggering event and the controller causes the flash to flash if necessary and causes the shutter to form an exposure on the film.
1. An apparatus comprising:
a camera within the housing;
a motion detector; and
a controller coupled to the motion detector and the camera, the controller having a test mode, wherein when the controller is in the test mode, a triggering signal received by the controller from the motion detector activates a test indicator and does not activate the camera.
2. The apparatus of
3. The apparatus of
4. The apparatus of
5. The apparatus of
6. A method comprising:
placing a motion detector camera into a test state;
activating a motion detector associated with the motion detector camera to send a triggering signal to a controller; and
the controller activating a test indicator on the motion detector camera.
7. The method of
8. The method of
9. An apparatus comprising:
a camera mechanism located within the housing;
a motion detector exposed on a surface of the housing;
a flash exposed on a surface of the housing and separated from the camera mechanism such that the flash and camera are not a separate stand-alone unit;
a controller coupled to the motion detector, the flash, and the camera mechanism; and
a test indicator coupled to the controller, wherein when the controller is put into a testing state, the controller activates the test indicator when the motion detector delivers a triggering signal but the controller does not cause the camera mechanism to take a picture.
10. The apparatus of
11. The apparatus of
12. The apparatus of
13. An apparatus comprising:
a camera mechanism located within the housing;
a motion detector exposed on a surface of the housing;
a flash exposed on a surface of the housing and separated from the camera mechanism such that the flash and camera mechanism are not a separate stand-alone unit; and
a controller for controlling the flash and the camera mechanism, wherein the controller includes a pause state, wherein when in the pause state the controller does not cause the camera mechanism to take any pictures in response to a triggering signal received by the controller from the motion detector.
14. The apparatus of
15. The apparatus of
16. An apparatus comprising:
a camera located within a housing;
a motion detector exposed on a surface of the housing;
a controller coupled to the motion detector to activate the camera when the motion detector delivers a triggering signal to the controller; and
a display to display a number of pictures taken by the camera.
17. The apparatus of
18. The apparatus of
19. The apparatus of
This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/804,420, filed on Mar. 19, 2004, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/757,803, filed on Jan. 10, 2001, now issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,735,387, the specifications of which are incorporated herein by reference.
This invention relates to the field of cameras, and more specifically to motion triggered cameras.
Cameras for taking photographs generally consist of a light-proof enclosure having an aperture with a shuttered lens through which the image of an object is focused and recorded on a photosensitive film. A user typically triggers the shutter to expose the film, thus allowing a picture to be made.
Sometimes it is desirable for a user to take a picture when they are not present. For instance, the user may want to keep surveillance on an area for security or surveillance reasons. In some situations, the camera is switched on and continuously scans the area. In other situations, the camera is triggered by an event. For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 5,878,283 to House discusses a single-use camera that incorporates a motion sensor to activate the shutter and take a photograph.
Some problems with such cameras include that the user does not know the time a picture was taken, or the camera may take too many unnecessary pictures at one time and waste film, or the camera may be stolen. When used outdoors, the camera may be damaged by weather. It is also desirable for the camera to be portable and relatively inexpensive.
For these and other reasons which will be apparent upon reading the present disclosure, a motion detector camera having a variety of user-controllable functions has been devised. In one embodiment, the motion detector camera includes a housing having a mounting member in a bottom surface for mounting the housing to a tripod, the housing having an film advance mechanism for automatically advancing a film of the camera after each exposure. The camera includes a wide angle lens attached to a front surface of the housing, a motion detector attached to a front surface of the housing, and a flash attached to the housing. The camera also includes a controller for controlling the flash and a shutter of the camera, wherein the controller receives a signal from the motion detector indicating a triggering event and the controller causes the flash to flash if necessary and causes the shutter to form an exposure on the film.
In one option, the controller is programmable to cause the camera to take a pre-determined number of exposures per triggering event. In another option, the controller causes a test light to blink when the motion detector is triggered but the controller does not cause the camera to expose any film. In another option, when the camera is turned on the controller regulates a test sequence wherein the test light blinks for a pre-determined amount of time. In another option, when put into a pause state, the controller ignores any triggering events of the motion detector until a pre-determined amount of time has elapsed. In another option, the camera can alternatively place an hour/minute stamp on a picture or a year/date/month stamp on the picture.
Among other advantages, these features provide a user with a portable, full-featured motion detector camera.
In the following detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. It is understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.
Housing 102 is an enclosure for holding the various components of the camera. Housing 102 can be a plastic, metal or composite material. Housing 102 is sealed so as to be waterproof. In one embodiment, housing 102 is adapted to be weatherproof to withstand temperature swings from approximately −20 degrees F. to approximately 100 degrees F. Mounted within housing 102 is the film for the camera, such as a 35 mm film cartridge, an automatic film advance mechanism, and other conventional camera components. Also mounted within the housing is a power supply such as 4 D-size batteries. These internal components will be described below.
On a bottom surface 110 of housing 102 is a mounting member such as a threaded hole 109 for mounting housing 102 to a standard camera tripod. In this embodiment, attached to a front surface of housing 102 are a first light 112 and a second light 114. First light 112 is an LED or other equivalent light. First light 112 is a power supply indicator which is activated when the power supply within the housing becomes low. Second light 114 is also an LED or other equivalent light. Second light 114 is used as a testing indicator. Further details of various uses of lights 112 and 114 will be described below.
In this embodiment, housing 102 is attachable to a support or stand 120. Stand 120 includes a base 121 which has a first arm 122 attached at one end and a second arm 124 attached at a second end. This structure provides an approximately U-shaped stand for mounting housing 102. Stand 120 includes a mounting hole 126 in each arm which is located so that a mounting bolt 127 extends through hole 126 to attach to a hole 128 in a side surface of housing 102 to mount the housing to the stand. In one example, mounting bolt 127 is a threaded bolt having a hand-turnable knob on one end and hole 128 is a threaded hole. This allows the housing 102 to be removably attached to stand 120, while giving a user the options of other attachment methods.
Base 121 of stand 120 includes a hole 132 which is located at the same position relative to mounting member 109 of housing 102. A tripod mounting post can extend through hole 132 to mount with mounting member 102. Thus, motion detector camera 100 can be mounted to a tripod either using stand 120 or without the stand.
Another method of mounting housing 120 to a structure is provided by mounting members 142 and 144 located on the rear portion of housing 102. In one example, mounting members 142 and 144 are slots located on each rear corner, respectively, of the housing. As shown in
Housing 102 includes a hole 147 in a rear surface of the housing for mounting a threaded bolt 146 for holding portions of the housing together.
In this example, lens 104 is a fixed focus lens which can provide a focus up to approximately 50 feet away. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that other lens types may be substituted as necessary. In one example, an F5.6 lens is used. Alternatively, lenses can be used which provide fixed focus up to 15 feet, 25 feet, 30 feet, or other distances provided by fixed focus lenses known in the art. In some embodiments, an auto-focus lens and focusing mechanism can be used. Lens 104 is a wide-angle lens so that camera 100 is capable of taking pictures over a wide range. In one embodiment, a ridge 155 is located above the lens to help shield and protect the lens.
Motion detector 106 is an infrared motion sensor. In one example, motion detector 106 is a sensor which detects motion up to 50 feet away from the housing. Other embodiments provide sensing up to 30 feet away. In this example, the infrared sensor has a 110 degree angle coverage. Alternatively, motion detector 106 can be a light sensor, an RF sensor or other equivalent motion sensor.
In one embodiment, flash 108 provides a flash up to 23 feet away. Other size flashes for providing larger flash distances can be incorporated into the housing. For instance, one embodiment provides a 50 foot flash. In the present embodiment, although contained within the same housing 102, flash 108 is separate from lens 104 and the other internal components of the camera. In other words, flash 108 and the other camera components are not an integral unit such as in a conventional 35 mm flash camera. Typically, motion detector cameras have a conventional, third-party 35 mm camera mounted within a housing and are thus constricted as to the options the camera can provide. Here, the separate, yet all-in-one, structure of motion detector camera 100 allows flash 108 to be larger than in conventional 35 mm cameras while still providing the portable structure provided by including all the necessary picture taking components within a single housing 102.
In one embodiment, camera 100 includes a LCD display 157 for displaying the number of exposures taken by the camera. Display 157 can also be used to display other information, such as power level and so forth.
Controller 301 is a control unit which includes circuitry and/or software for controlling the functions of motion detector camera 100. Controller 301 is coupled to first light 112, second light 114, motion detector 106, flash 108, camera mechanism 302, and power supply 304.
Controller 301 is programmable to provide a variety of functions for camera 100. In one example, motion detector 106 sends a signal to controller 301 when a triggering event occurs. One example of a triggering event is a motion detected by motion detector 106. When controller 301 receives the signal indicating a triggering event, the controller then send signals to flash 108 and camera mechanism 302 to actuate the shutter and take a picture, and to advance the film. In one embodiment, a light sensor can be incorporated into camera 100 to measure the light available and the controller can omit sending a signal to flash 108 if it is not necessary for the picture being taken.
In another example, controller 301 is programmed to cause the camera to take a pre-determined number of exposures per triggering event. This places the controller into a burst state. For instance, a user may want to have a burst of pictures taken when motion is detected. In this case, when controller 301 receives a signal from motion detector 106, the controller causes a series of exposures to be taken one after another in rapid succession. In one embodiment, the controller can be programmed by a user to provide anywhere between 1 and 9 exposures per triggering event.
In another example, controller 301 is programmed so that controller can be put into a pause state. When put into a pause state, the controller ignores any triggering events of motion detector 106 until a pre-determined amount of time has elapsed. This allows a user to avoid wasting film when the motion detector is triggered by the same source very quickly. In one embodiment, the controller is programmable by a user so that the time of the pause between possible exposures is set optionally between 1 to 60 minutes.
In another example, controller 301 senses the power remaining in power supply 304 and when the power reaches a pre-determined low level, the controller activates first light 112 which acts as a low power indicator. This allows a user to predict if a camera 100 which is going to be unattended for a period of time will have enough power to function during the time period.
In another example, controller activates second light 114 to perform testing functions. For instance, when controller 301 is put into a testing state, the controller causes test light 114 to blink when the motion detector is triggered, but the controller does not cause the camera to expose any film. This allows a user to test the camera without wasting any film. Another example causes test light 114 to blink when the camera is turned on, allowing a user to know it is working.
In another example, controller 301 sends a signal to camera mechanism 302 so that, at a user's option, either an hour/minute stamp is placed on a picture or a year/date/month stamp is placed on the picture. This option allows a user the flexibility of choosing how to analyze the pictures taken.
Housing 702 includes a two-part structure including a front member 703 a which is removably mountable with a rear member 703 b. In this embodiment, members 703 a and 703 b are clear plastic members. Alternatively they can be other types of plastic, or metal members. A pair of latches 742 are located on rear member 703 b. Front member 703 a includes a matching set of mounting members 743 which couple with latches 742. In this embodiment, when latched together, housing 702 is a waterproof housing. Housing 702 also includes attachment members such as slots 741 for threading a flexible band 730 through for attaching the camera to a mounting surface. Camera 700 includes mounting members such as slots 740 for mounting flexible band 730 directly to an enclosure 760.
Camera section 704 includes a lens 705 and a flash 707. In this embodiment, one or more conventional camera features such as automatic focus sensors and automatic flash sensors 708 are included. Alternatively, a fixed focus lens can be utilized.
Motion detector 706 is mounted within enclosure 760 which also includes one or more lights 710 and 712, which are substantially equivalent to lights 112 and 114 described above for camera 100.
A controller is mounted within enclosure 760 and coupled to the various components of camera 700 as shown above in
Camera 700 is relatively compact. In one embodiment, the camera has overall dimensions of approximately (147 mm×140 mm×67 mm). This compact size allows for easy portability and allows the camera to be easily hidden.
In one example of a use of one or more of the embodiments described above, the camera system is used for surveillance of game trials in a forest. For example, one or more of the cameras described above can be placed near a trail a user suspects may be frequented by an animal such as deer. The cameras can be mounted to a tree using flexible bands such as bands 150 or 730. A lock can be incorporated into the band to provide security.
The controllers of the cameras can be set by a user to provide one or more of the features described above. For instance, a controller can be optionally set to provide bursts of pictures when the animal triggers the motion detector. Also, the controller can be optionally set to go into pause state after each triggering event. This can be useful when a single animal is within the range of the motion detector for a long period of time. The controller can also be optionally set so that the camera can alternatively place an hour/minute stamp on a picture or a year/date/month stamp on a picture. This is useful for a hunter to analyze the movement habits of the wildlife.
Another example of a use of the system is as a security camera system. One or more of the cameras can be mounted to a house or in the area around a house or store. Again, the hour/minute stamp on a picture or a year/date/month stamp can be utilized, as well as the other features described above.
The above description is intended to be illustrative, and not restrictive. Many other embodiments will be apparent to those of skill in the art upon reviewing the above description. The scope of the invention should, therefore, be determined with reference to the appended claims, along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled.