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Multivendor Solutions Can Increase Video System Latency

August 26, 2021

Defense video & imagery distribution systems are critical to the safety of military personnel on both the ground and in the air. Ensuring vital visual information is available as close to real-time as possible is a crucial role of today's video management systems.

It doesn't take much imagination to consider the effects of a high latency video system on situational awareness. The critical delays caused by video latency can mean warfighters are unaware of an approaching enemy, man-made or natural obstacles, or other hazards until it's too late.

Latency issues can also make for an unpleasant viewing experience. Delayed images can lead to motion sickness when what you see doesn't match what you feel. This discrepancy can cause inner ear disturbances that lead to debilitating physical side effects like nausea and dizziness. These uncomfortable physical manifestations can quickly become a distraction, further impacting the operator's situational awareness.

The benchmark for low latency in video systems is not set by vendors competing to sell their solutions but by military organizations recognizing how important near-real-time video is.

Example of a modern situational awareness system on a ground vehicle

Example of a modern situational awareness system on a ground vehicle

While minimum latency requirements can vary depending on the application, research has shown that driver’s vision enhancer systems (DVE) for military applications should have a minimum glass-to-glass latency of 60ms. For those operating ground vehicles, a United Kingdom (UK) Ministry of Defence study found that drivers could safely drive a vehicle through a visual display when the overall video system latency is 40 ms or less.

For more information on video system latency and its effects on situational awareness, read the white paper "Minimizing Glass-to-Glass Latency and Enhancing Situational Awareness."

Interoperability Issues Increase Latency

Designing a low latency video capture system that meets these requirements is more than selecting individual system components with low latency specifications. System integrators must also decide between a single or multivendor design approach that supports reducing latency from end to end. From the cameras to the ruggedized displays – each component in the video management system must work together to improve latency.

Multivendor video integration projects introduce technical issues that can reduce overall system performance and quality. When integrated with components from other vendors, system integrators may find that low latency specifications are not being met. Physical and software adapters, complex cabling, and inconsistent performance across multivendor system components can increase latency.

A Single-Vendor Approach to Video Systems Supports Reducing System Latency

When video system components are engineered from the ground up to work together and integrated by a single vendor, they work seamlessly.  A single vendor approach to video management system design enables individual components to meet their latency specifications and reduce overall system latency.

In addition to offering everything needed to simplify and accelerate end-to-end video system development and integration, Curtiss-Wright's video products and solutions address the key technical challenges associated with reducing latency.

For maximum flexibility, Curtiss-Wright takes a building block approach to video system design, providing ruggedized mission displays, video distribution systems, and video recorders, as well as complete video management systems.

Our video products and solutions can be used with almost any digital and analog camera, ensuring that our customers can fully leverage existing investments and interoperate with a wide range of deployed solutions.

Curtiss-Wright uses industry-standard interfaces, such as USB, serial, CANBus, and Ethernet to ensure interoperability among our video system products and supports most industry-standard video formats. When needed, we can adapt product software to support proprietary interface protocols and video formats.

We also offer drivers for the most common operating systems and support standards, such as USB human interface device (HID), to enable plug-and-play access to the functionality in our video products.

To learn more about how a multivendor approach can affect system, and program performance, read our white paper on "The Hidden Costs of Video System Integration."

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