ATEX certified electronics for use in hazardous and explosive environments on oil and gas
installations,” says Andreas Parr Bjørnsund,
project manager for Pixavi AS, based in Stavanger, Norway, in an interview for that article. “To
be even more precise, our cameras are certified for both Zone 1 and Zone 2 environments,
which [are] the most hazardous areas you find.”
Pixavi now markets what looks, from the
outside, like a fancy Flip camera. The Gravity
X offers 1080p and an 8-megapixel image capture, but its biggest selling points are that it has
a glove-compatible touch screen and can be
used in low light and darkness while sporting
a sunlight-readable display. And, according to
Pixavi, it can be used to “take high quality images where no other cameras are allowed” in
those Zone 1 and Zone 2 environments.
Speaking of darkness, there have been stories of other streaming technologies that were
used for light-challenged rescue operations.
For instance, the cameras used to communicate with and, ultimately, to aid in the rescue
of the 33 trapped Chilean miners, have been
upgraded to even sturdier housings and more
For those who might not recall details
around those trapped miners—immortalized
in the 2015 blockbuster movie The 33—the
views of the miners’ living conditions more
than 700 meters underground were facilitated
by streaming cameras.
A Vivotek FD8134 camera was lowered down
to the miners, according to a Vivotek press re-
lease that coincided with the movie’s U.S. re-
lease. The camera was lowered “through a small
tube providing real-time surveillance while
supplying video feeds to multiple points.” Us-
ing an integrated infrared (IR) illuminator, the
camera was able to “provide the rescue team
and the media with clear footage of the min-
ers living conditions, despite the lack of light.”
Updated versions of the same camera, now
known as the FD9371-EHTV, come in a 3-
megapixel version able to withstand operat-
ing temperatures ranging from - 50°C to 50°C.
It now has a remote focus functionality as a
way to deal with varying scenarios in which
this type of camera would be used.
Looking at the 2018 variants of these products, one might feel positively retrograde, as
minimalism rules the day. Gone are the waterproof covers that shielded the portable encoder buttons from ocean spray or other liquids. In
fact, the buttons are gone completely, too.
All that’s left exposed on what are, quite literally, monolithic black boxes are a few waterproof connectors: Bayonet Neill-Concelman
(BNC) connectors for analog or digital video
inputs, a power connector, and—assuming that
an integrated Wi-Fi chipset isn’t providing connectivity—one or several reverse SNC antenna couplers.
Incendium is a Danish company that makes
products that work in various harsh environments and rugged terrains, and those products show the heritage of industrial devices
designed to operate in these situations. Its
cloud-based IndicentShare platform focuses
mainly on police, fire, rescue, and other dangerous situations.
The Incendium encoder series falls under
the Stream Pack name. The most popular unit
from Incendium is the Stream Pack Mini, which
is about the size of a large flask. It’s not much
to look at, but under the generic black surface
is a fairly robust encoding solution housed in a
crushproof and waterproof shell. Attach a few
antennae and put the unit in a canvas harness,
and you’ve got what looks like something the radio comm grunt on G. I. Joe might carry around.
Internally, though, the Stream Pack is packed
with options. These black-box solutions stream
via multiple bonded connection types, across
multiple carriers—from 3G and 4G to LTE cellular connections, as well as satellite uplinks
and local fiber or Wi-Fi connections—to create
a reliable broadband video uplink.
The Stream Pack
Mini from Incendium
is a robust encoding
solution housed in
a crushproof and
in harsh environments
such as mines.