I was multitasking at that time, also working on MoD projects, one of which took me to Philips at Eindhoven, Holland. I was shown a new disc based video player (note not recorder) which they had brought to market for video rentals, which they forecast to be big business. These market expectations were not met as most people wanted to record the programmes they would otherwise miss, rather than rent a disc to play. But I did note the excellent still frame pictures the player produced
This set a germ of an idea, and I had O.S. maps scanned by a step and repeat camera and turned into a series of photographs, no such thing at that time as file standards like JPG. The photos were then stamped onto a video disc, and yes I do mean stamped using a process known as the two P process within Philips. It was known as the two P process as no one could pronounce the chemicals name, but it had two Ps !
The map disc could then be “played” in still frame mode on the new Philips player which also had the capability of serial data control. An index of OS grids versus page number and map corners was built together with a place name gazetteer.
The video from the player was routed via a graphics inserter board which had a family of graphical shapes representing the status modes of mobile resources. The whole system was controlled by the latest in computing technology, the DEC PDP 11.
The new modem performed well at 9600 baud over both A.M. and F.M. radio systems, and reception of a status message from the mobile placed a symbol into the correct “zone” no GPS then, and the colour of the symbol represented the readiness of the resource. The dispatch information, street name etc was manually input to the system and from the gazetteer the pin point location suitably noted in graphics.
The in car display solution was never developed and the dead reckoning navigator suffered from errors due to road slip until differential GPS came along.
The only photograph I have of the new system, which we named Video Overlay Resource Availability System or VORAS is below. It was incidentally an exhibition at the MET police.
21st October 2009
Further information about MADE can be found in the Image Library.
Acknowledgement: Joe Bell for the article and photo