A clever electronics design was exhibited at CES in Las Vegas this year: The noPhoto Speed and Red Light Camera Jammer.
A young entrepreneur’s love of cars, amateur photography, and high-end audio and video setups led to a solution to defeat the dreaded red light camera.
Red light cameras are a controversial subject, especially here in the wild, wild West of Phoenix, AZ. Most Arizona municipalities discontinued their photo-enforcement programs in March 2016 after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich declared they were operating illegally. Two months later the cameras made a re-appearance after some legal hurdles were overcome. The controversy continues.
No Limits Enterprises took up the gauntlet and built their first prototype using infrared LEDs because while taking photos in a new home theater room, the inventor noticed that infrared light from remote controls was clearly visible on camera, even though it was invisible to the naked eye—the design failed.
When investigating this first failure, the team discovered that infrared LEDs were not able to overpower the ambient infrared light coming from the sun. The most powerful commercially available LEDs were not even visible in full sunlight, regardless of how many they chained together. Other difficulties also needed to be addressed like the fact that present flash detection circuits were not sensitive enough to reliably detect a flash from either consumer or speed cameras in sunlight. They would need to find a method to solve false-alert filtering, attaching their device to the license plate, and to make their design able to be powered by a noisy 12-volt car electrical system.
The small band of entrepreneurs went on to build a bare circuit board prototype using xenon flash tubes instead of infrared LEDs. Success!
Essentially the system makes the license plate portion of the image too bright for the Red Light camera's sensor to handle. Sounds simple but there were challenges to overcome. One was the need to develop flash detection circuitry that could detect a typical traffic enforcement flash as far away as 100+ feet in direct sunlight. The second major hurdle was that their flash detection circuit was so good that it was detecting too many sources of light, causing false triggers. The sun, car headlights, and even a flashlight would set the device off! The team knew that false triggers were not such a big problem; they do slightly reduce bulb life so they needed to eliminate them. By creating a powerful filtering circuitry, the team was able to perform real-time analysis of the detected light.
Their website has an excellent description and videos demonstrating the functionality of the system.
Their website also answers some of the most asked questions about their technology plus myths and legality of using such a system on your car.
What do you think about this product and red light and speeding cameras?