His Coordinates

Our customers can establish a successful business by flying an UltraCam

Jun 2011 | No Comment

Says, Mr. Alexander Wiechert , Business Director, Vexcel Imaging GmbH in coversation with Coordinates

Alexander Wiechert

Business Director, Vexcel Imaging GmbH

What are the high points in the journey from the UltraCam photogrammetric digital aerial mapping camera introduced in 2004 to recently announce of a new version of the UltraMap workflow software UltraMap 2.2?

The UltraCam was conceived by Vexcel Imaging prior to the acquisition of the company by Microsoft. The organization, now known as the Microsoft UltraCam product group, has a history of leading the industry by innovation. We presented the UltraCamD in 2003/2004 which led to the innovation of the UltraCamX in 2006, and the UltraCamXp and UltraCamXp Wide Angle in the 2008/2009 timeframe. For the smaller footprint camera market, we released the UltraCamL in 2008 and then evolved this to the UltraCamLp in 2010. Recently, in May 2011, we announced the next revolutionary photogrammetric camera system: the UltraCam Eagle.

Our UltraMap processing software has undergone a similarly, if not even more radical, significant evolution. The acquisition of Vexcel Imaging by Microsoft has allowed the UltraCam team access to a huge amount of cutting edge software developed by the R&D centers of Microsoft. Some of the innovative features of UltraMap now include automated distributed processing, monolithic geometry, monolithic radiometry, automated hotspot removal, haze and sun angle correction and automated project based color balancing. This all makes image processing faster, reduces manual interaction to the absolute minimum and provides superior quality in the end image product.

UltraCam Eagle represents a revolution in digital photogrammetric camera systems. Please explain.

The time was right for another revolutionary step with the UltraCam. The UltraCam Eagle opens up a completely new camera classification in the aerial camera segment: the “ultra-large” format camera system of more than 20,000 pixels across the flight strip. The enhancements from prior UltraCam systems are extensive: we developed new CCDs with an industry leading signal to noise ratio of 72 dB; we developed a new optimized lens system at the cutting edge of today’s lens technology; and we developed new camera electronics. These enhancements ensure best-in-class image sharpness and dynamics – extremely important for aerial survey and photogrammetry.

Furthermore, we adapted our monolithic geometry and radiometry features of UltraMap to support the UltraCam Eagle. We developed an exchangeable lens system that allows lens exchange without recalibration, while still maintaining the sub-pixel accuracy. We established unprecedented system integration through a modular housing concept that incorporates an in-flight, exchangeable solid-state storage that is capable of storing over 3800 images and an optional GPS/INS/FMS system fully embedded in the sensor head. We reduced the camera weight and power consumption by 50%. All this maximizes camera operation, flexibility and reliability and, at the end of the day, allows the camera user to capture more, higher quality data with fewer costs.

Is pricing a consideration while evolving the marketing strategies, especially in the developing world?

Yes, sure. Price is always a consideration. That is why we developed such a broad range of camera systems ranging from the UltraCamLp to the UltraCamXp to the UltraCam Eagle. Each of these cameras has a specific price point that reflects the performance and market segment. But all are based on the award-winning UltraCam multi-cone concept for maximum camera reliability and image quality. This allows customers to choose the UltraCam system that best fits their budget, business and operation, and always be sure that their organizations are delivering the high standard of UltraCam quality to their customers.

What makes your products and solutions unique in the industry?

There is no sole reason, rather it is due to a combination of factors such as the outstanding performance/price ratio of the system driven by strong innovation; the camera design principle based on multi-cones and software leveraged hardware; the outstanding processing software UltraMap; the strong commitment to customer satisfaction and customer service, including a comprehensive camera upgrade program. And last but not least: an experienced, skilled and motivated world-class UltraCam team that works extremely hard every day to make the best cameras and software and to deliver the best service to the customer; and our knowledgeable sales and support partners around the globe.

Last couple of years has seen a surge in demand for your camera’s across the globe. How that was achieved?

The market has decided. We estimate that today little more than 400 digital photogrammetric cameras have been sold world-wide and that more than 300 of those are frame-based cameras. This is strong indication that the market has chosen frame cameras as the preferred concept. As of May 2011, 195 of these more than 300 photogrammetric frame cameras are UltraCam cameras. This gives us a 48% global market share of all digital photogrammetric cameras and a 65% market share of all digital photogrammetric frame cameras. Currently over 65% of all cameras sold annually are UltraCams. Why did this happen? Why are we continuously gaining market share? We believe that it’s because, at the end of the day, our customers know that they can establish a successful business and win in their markets by flying an UltraCam rather than another camera.

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