Camera control system and camera control apparatus

Television – Two-way video and voice communication – Conferencing

Reexamination Certificate

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Reexamination Certificate

active

06597389

ABSTRACT:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a camera control system and, more particularly, to a camera control apparatus used in a system for displaying images from at least one camera connected to a network and remote-controlling the camera.
2. Related Background Art
A conventional remote monitoring system using a plurality of cameras includes a plurality of video cameras, a synthesizer for analog-synthesizing images from these video cameras, and a switching device called a switcher that can freely select an image from an arbitrary camera. Such system is mainly used inside a relatively small-scale building, and is called a local monitoring system. In contrast to such local monitoring system, a remote monitoring system, in which a plurality of cameras are connected to a LAN (local area network) or a digital network such as a public digital network (ISDN) or the like, so that more, farther cameras can be connected flexibly, has been proposed.
In recent remote monitoring systems, a personal computer or a workstation is used as a monitoring terminal to realize video display and system control by means of a graphical user interface (GUI). When the monitoring terminal uses the GUI of the computer, it becomes easy even for a person who is not skilled in the apparatus to operate such system. In particular, since the positions and directions of cameras that output camera images are superimposed on a map indicating the layout state of the cameras simultaneously with the camera images on the monitor, the current situation can be intuitively recognized, and a quick response can be made, e.g., when an emergency state has occurred.
Even in the conventional remote monitoring system that uses the network, the power switch of each camera must be turned on. Therefore, at the beginning of the operation, the power switches of all the cameras must be turned on at the corresponding places. When a camera is set at an inaccessible place, it is very difficult to temporarily turn off its power switch. In view of this problem, cameras in some systems are always kept ON.
When the power switches of cameras are turned on individually, or when the cameras are kept ON, wasteful power consumption may increase. For example, a camera set at a place to be temporarily monitored need only be turned on only when it is required. However, the conventional system cannot meet such requirements.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is an object of the present invention to provide a camera control system and apparatus and their related arrangements, which can solve the above-mentioned problems and can remote-control power supply to cameras.
In order to achieve the above object, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the following arrangements are provided.
According to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a camera control system comprising at least one camera, power supply to which can be externally controlled, at least one camera management means for managing the at least one camera, at least one terminal station which communicates with the camera management means to display an image from the at least one camera, and instruction means for generating a power turn-on/off instruction of an arbitrary one of the at least one camera from the terminal station.
According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a camera control system comprising at least one camera, power supply to which can be externally controlled, at least one camera management means for managing the at least one camera, at least one terminal station which communicates with the camera management means and has a display unit for displaying an image input from the at least one camera, switch means for switching the camera which inputs the image to be displayed on the display unit, and instruction means for generating a power turn-off instruction of the camera that inputs an image which ceases to be displayed on the display unit upon switching by the switch means.
According to still another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a camera control system comprising at least one camera, power supply to which can be externally controlled, at least one camera management means for managing the at least one camera, and at least one terminal station which communicates with the camera management means and has a display unit for displaying an image input from the at least one camera, wherein the camera management means sends a predetermined camera's power turn-off request to all the terminal stations.
According to still another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a camera control apparatus for externally instructing an operation of an arbitrary one of at least one camera, comprising power ON/OFF informing means for informing predetermined camera management means of a power ON/OFF state of an arbitrarily designated camera, and wherein the power ON/OFF informing means comprises pseudo button display means for displaying a pseudo power control button on a screen of a terminal station, and pointer means for operating the pseudo button.
According to still another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a camera control apparatus for externally instructing an operation of an arbitrary one of at least one camera, comprising a display unit for displaying an image input from the at least one camera, switch means for switching the camera that inputs the image to be displayed on the display unit, and instruction means for generating a power turn-off instruction of the camera that inputs an image which ceases to be displayed on the display unit upon switching by the switch means.
According to still another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a storage medium which stores a program for externally instructing an operation of an arbitrary one of at least one camera, wherein said storage medium stores a camera control program comprising steps of displaying a pseudo power control button on a screen and informing predetermined camera management means of a power ON/OFF state of an arbitrarily designated camera by operating the pseudo button.
According to still another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a storage medium which stores a program for externally instructing an operation of an arbitrary one of at least one camera, wherein said storage medium stores a camera control program comprising steps of displaying an image input from the at least one camera, instructing switching of the camera that inputs the image to be displayed, and instructing to turn off a power source of the camera that inputs the image which ceases to be displayed in accordance with the switching instruction.
Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following specification and the accompanying drawings.


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