Frequently Asked Questions

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Rana FAQ

What is it?

Rana is a motion-activated recording system which is loosely based on the frog visual system, i.e., if its blobby and it moves, Rana will be able to detect it. Rana is a combination of logger hardware and a computer software application, all bundled with a Linux operating system.

Who would use it?

Anybody who wants to record things which move. For example, pest exterminators, security companies, and ecologists would all benefit from using the Rana system.

What can it do?

Rana monitors a camera to detect “frames of motion” (e.g., frames in which a substantial number of pixels in that frame differ from the previous frame and in which these motion-pixels are concentrated into a small area, “the blob”). These motion frames are combined into digital movies which can be subsequently viewed using standard digital video editing suites (e.g., Virtualdub or Avidemix) or movie view tools such as Microsoft media player or the open source VLC viewer).

What actions can be taken by the Rana system when motion is detected?

It can be set up for many actions including:

  • Making a movie
  • Initiating a time-lapse recording (you can specify the required frame rate)
  • Outputing frames containing motion as a jpeg image
  • Initiating a user defined script; such scripts could, for example, be setting a bell to be rung, making a light flash, or causing a door to be locked.

If you want something which is not included on the above list, it may be possible to easily adapt the system to suit your requirements. If so, please contact us.

Can the camera be controlled in real time?

Yes, Rana provides a comprehensive web-based control interface with which the camera can be controlled.

Is it possible to view what the camera is looking at real time?

Certainly, Rana streams the camera output in a format which can be viewed via a web browser, e.g., Safari or Google Chrome.

What sort of camera does Rana work with?

Rana will work with any standard webcam. Obviously, the higher the specification of the camera, the better the result. For example, for routine monitoring of invertebrates (e.g., bees, butterflies, etc.), high end USB webcams such as the Philips SPC1330 will give very good results.

Can I use more than one camera?

Yes, the number of cameras is limited only by the CPU speed of the logger and the number of USB ports it possesses. Typically, a logger using ARM or Intel Atom processors can handle 2 to 3 cameras.

What sort of resolution image frames can the system acquire?

This depends on the camera used (and to an extent the processor in the data logger as well). With a high end webcam and Intel Atom hardware, image frames of up to 1280 pixels x 960 pixels can be acquired (at a frame rate of 90 frames per second).

Does image size affect the number of cameras I can use with a logger?

Yes, the bigger the frames the longer they take to process: if you want to detect transient events at very high resolution, a typical Atom or Arm based logger is only able to handle a single camera.

Is it completely automatic?

Yes, Rana is a “fire and forget” solution. Once set up, it can be left running in the field for months at a time. The length of time Rana can operate unattended is only limited by the disk size of the logger running it and the power constraints of the logger.

Can it operate anywhere?

Yes, Rana has been designed to deploy in remote locations. We have developed a battery system which allows the logger to run remotely in the field using relatively inexpensive vehicle lead acid batteries. Currently, systems can run unattended in the field for up to a week. With lower power loggers this could be extended to a month or more.

What support software does it need?

None, other than a video editor suite or digital movie viewing tool. VLC, Microsoft Media Viewer, Avidemux, and Virtualdub are all appropriate tools. If you intend to view streamed output from the video cameras in real time, you will need a web browser which supports this such as Safari or Google Chrome.

Does it need a specific operating system?

Yes, Rana is a Linux/μLinux application. These operating systems will be bundled with the application on loggers supplied by Tumbling Dice.

Can it be put on bespoke hardware?

Yes, the software component is a portable C application. This means it can be run on low power FPGA and ARM based kit optimised for remote field use. Some of these low power systems can be continuously recharged using an array of solar cells which means they could be deployed in the field indefinitely. Tumbling Dice is happy to discuss specific requests of this nature with clients.

Can it interoperate with other Tumbling Dice software packages?

Yes, objects in frames captured by Rana can be passed to applications like Daisy or Mensor for downstream identification.