Elkeelany Named 2009 Kinslow Winner for Research on Firewire and Ethernet Camera Systems

The camera systems that watch and record us in airports, factories and other places we travel and work can increase safety and accountability, but also add tremendous overhead costs.

Tennessee Tech University’s Omar Elkeelany, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has published research that promises to reduce the cost of camera surveillance while keeping needed quality and accessibility. For his work, Elkeelany was named TTU’s 2009 Kinslow Engineering Research Award winner. The award is given annually for the best paper written by a TTU engineering faculty member and published in a refereed professional journal.

Elkeelany’s work focuses on taking the best of two technologies, Firewire and Ethernet connections, and designing a chip that allows cameras to be connected to networks in more efficient, less costly ways. Currently, Firewire connections are limited in length but require a single cable for power and data. On the other hand, Ethernet cameras use the advantage of existing widely available network infrastructure, but for the most part need to be powered through separate electric cables that add to the cost of deployment and provide limited video quality.

“The key effort is to design a system on a chip to allow forwarding of multicast video streams across these two types of networks,” explained Elkeelany. “The chip plays the role of a computer capable of connecting to a network and able to retain the quality and security needed.”

Large-scale, security sensitive buildings, such as airports, or industrial facilities with remote cameras for quality control are ideal locations to implement the new chip technology.

“Think of a library with cameras in each corner,” said Elkeelany. “You need dedicated cable to a central location running to multiple computers in order to monitor activity. The power requirements and safety issues of cables in the ceiling require expensive installation.

“The chip allows Firewire cables to be used for power and data and eliminates the need to connect a Firewire camera to a computer,” he explained. “It extends the range of Firewire by forwarding video to the Ethernet network. Plus, the chip is a less expensive choice because it only includes the needed functionality.”

Elkeelany estimates using the chip could cut the cost of setting up Firewire camera systems by half.

“Plus, the chip can be programmed in the lab, not in a factory, so we can reduce the time and costs associated with adjusting the design,” he said. “We can design, simulate and conduct a real test before putting the cameras on location.”

Elkeelany’s paper, “On chip novel video streaming system for bi-network multicasting protocols,” appeared last October in Integration, The VLSI Journal, a journal dedicated to very large scale integration with an emphasis on cross-fertilization between various fields of science, and the design, verification, test and applications of integrated circuits and systems.

Elkeelany received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science and automatic control from the University of Alexandria, Egypt. He earned his doctorate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in engineering and networking. He joined TTU in Fall 2005 and established the Embedded Systems Design Laboratory. He also holds a doctor of research degree from the International Institute of Science and Technology.

The Kinslow Award honors Professor Emeritus Ray Kinslow, who taught for 32 years at Tennessee Tech and served as head of the Engineering Science and Mechanics Department for 25 years. Last year's award winner was Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Ying Zhang.