Have you ever thought about how to test Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology? Because we have. In fact, we've thought about it a lot. When you consider how much the technology has changed in the decades since it was first invented, it's not surprising that we've had to develop new ways to test it at every phase in its evolution.
Not too long ago, testing was a tedious process. In 2009, for example, when Louis-Mathieu Guimond, System-Test Team Lead at Genetec Inc., first joined the AutoVu™ testing team, the process of testing the read accuracy and distance at which Genetec™ Sharp cameras could read license plates was done manually.
To do this, "we would switch two license plates back and forth in front of the camera to see if it could capture both. Then, when we wanted to test for distance, we would hold a license plate in front of a camera and then walk away to see how far back we could get and have it still capture the plate" explains Guimond.
Innovations in Testing
Since then, to keep up with the advancements in technology, we have developed new, innovative ways to automate our testing. Says Guimond, "we have moved from putting a license plate in front of a monitor to creating a spinning wheel that holds 8 license plates that can spin at different speeds. This "plate-spinner" tests the Sharp and SharpX cameras' ability to read plates quickly."
In addition, we now use a permanently parked camper truck with a variety of both Sharp series cameras and partner cameras to test each one's ability to capture cars driving into the Genetec parking lot. The lot also has a simulated gate environment that uses red and green lights to indicate whether a gate would open or not during certain tests.
"We also have a Dodge Charger with SharpX mobile ALPR cameras" explains Guimond, "that can simulate the real world conditions in which both parking enforcement and police officers read plates while driving."
Why Testing is Important to Us
Better testing allows us to simulate and match our customers' environments so that we are able to test with near-real conditions. Working this way shows us how our solutions perform in the real world and not just in a desktop environment.
Our goal in development is always to address the industry and our customer's requirements. Constant and rigorous testing of our products and innovation plays an important role in our ability to achieve this goal, which is why we are constantly looking for ways to automate the process further.
For more information on AutoVu and our range of ALPR cameras, click here.