Episode 17 – Bill Powers – Design and Development Outdoor, Self-contained, Battery Operated, Covert Surveillance Cameras

Listen to "Untold Told Radio: Bill Powers - Design and Development Outdoor, Self-contained, Battery Operated, Covert Surveillance Cameras" on Spreaker.

William specializes in the design and development outdoor, self-contained, battery operated, covert surveillance cameras and live streaming video systems. These systems are designed for long-term use to monitor remote sites without power or wired Internet. He has over 35 years’ experience in electronic and software design and specializes in the design of wireless covert unattended video surveillance systems and sensor detection technology.

William has worked with many local, state, and federal agencies to design custom covert camera systems for remote surveillance applications. These agencies include but are not limited to the US Border Patrol, Homeland Security, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (AFT), US Military, National Parks Service, and many State and Local Police Agencies. William has also worked with the following wildlife agencies: Wildlife Federation (WWF), Animal Planet, The Discovery Channel, and National Geographic. In 2017 our cameras were used in the first live wildlife production titled "Earth Live" by NatGeo hosted by Jane Lynch and Phil Keoghan.

William founded PixController, Inc. in 2003 designing motion-activated outdoor/remote camera system products and sold the company to CSE Corporation in 2017. PixController, Inc. was started with the idea "how to capturing wildlife photos/movies" using unattended cameras with a line of multi-purpose motion-based controller products for animal scouting and wildlife research.

Today this type of technology is ever present in hunting stores and catalogs selling inexpensive "digital trail cameras", but at that time the only commercial systems available were 35mm based, and were very expensive. At that time this type of technology was out of the reach of most consumers to purchase.

At the close of first year in business, with several thousand controller boards in the field worldwide, PixController attracted the attention of a local hunting distributor, Penn's Woods Products. In 2002 PixController, Inc. designed a digital trail camera for Penn's Woods Products called the "Digital-Scout". This camera was sold through large distributors such as Cabela's. Later in 2004 PixController, Inc. developed the Video-Scout, a Sony camcorder trail camera for Penn's Woods Products which was also sold by Cabela's.

PixController turned its sights on being the first company to release a wireless cellular transmitted digital trail camera, the CellularEye™. The CellularEye™ incorporated a custom designed set of electronics that captured photo and email it to the user upon motion detection.

PixController, Inc. will release another first, the DVREye™, which will be the first "Digital Video Recorder" game camera on the market. This video recording unit features a unique full color by day footage and stealth IR footage at night recording mode. The DVREye camera system captured the two largest wildlife discoveries ever. In 2007 our video system enabled researchers from WWF-Malaysia to capture the first ever Sumatran Rhino on video. Then in 2008 researchers from WWF-Indonesia capered a rare Javan Rhino on video. Both discoveries made international news and were broadcast on all of the major US television networks.  PixController, Inc. also designed custom remote HD camera controllers which enabled Dave Sirak, news operations manager WFTV Television of Orlando, FL to capture the first ever NASA Space Shuttle launches in HD. The NASA HD camera project was nominated for an Emmy for "Technical Achievement" in 2008. PixController camera system has also been featured in the History Channels hit series MonsterQuest.

On October of 2009 PixController, Inc. was contacted by TV producers Ping Pong Productions from LA about being involved with a new series for Animal Planet. This would involve an on-camera role and require us to travel to several of the filming locations. In June of 2010 the series was approved by Animal Planet, and William flew to Prince of Whales Island in Alaska for two weeks to film the pilot episode of the new series "Finding Bigfoot". Powers setup some 30 cameras be brought along which included the Raptor Cellular system, DVREye video system, and DigitalEye still photo system. In February of 2011 Animal Planet approved a 6-part series. Powers flew to the first two locations in NC and GA for filming. The PixController cameras were used to search for evidence of Bigfoot in the series.

PixController, Inc. began developing wildlife webcam technologies and began streaming their first wildlife webcam in 2004. In 2007 this webcam was selected by EarthCam as a winner of the 2007 “25 Most Interesting Webcam” award. However, in 2010 PixController, Inc. was contacted by Doug Hajicek, producer of the “MonsterQuest” series with a project lead by Dr. Lynn Rogers from the North American Bear Center in Ely, MN to help design a camera system for live streaming a black bear den.

For the first time ever the entire world will have access to a streaming live webcam feed from inside the den of a wild hibernating female black bear named Lily. Located near Ely, MN, PixController, Inc. set up a streaming camera system inside the black bear den and a pan-tilt-zoom camera outside the den. The system streams the audio and video feed via an Internet connection for all to see.

On January 25, 2010 Lily gave birth to a female cub named Hope with over 50,000 people viewing the birth live. Dr Lynn Rogers, who is known as the "Bearwalker of the Northwoods," has known Lily since she was born in January 2007. Dr Rogers, who monitored every moment of Lily's 21-hour labor with colleague Sue Mansfield, said: "We were seeing stuff we've never seen before. It was like she was having some contractions that were out of control." The story was featured twice on the popular NBC Today morning show and was published in newspapers all over the world.

Then in 2014 PixController, Inc. received the Audubon Society James H. Hardie Award for outstanding environmental stewardship. The almost 3.4 million views of a webcam trained on the bald eagle nest in Pittsburgh's Hays neighborhood netted PixController, Inc. an environmental award from the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. The video camera captured the successful hatching, raising and fledging of three eaglets this summer to a rapt audience of watchers from schoolchildren to senior citizen centers. “Honoring PixController was an obvious choice for us this year,” said Jim Bonner, executive director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. “The webcam was responsible for more people watching nature in the region than anything else this year,” Bonner said.

In 2017 William formed PixCam, an educational non-profit, for the sole purpose of using his webcam technologies to connect people with nature. PixCams live streams a large variety of wildlife webcams used as educational tools by teachers and enjoyed by many casual observers.

Finally, in 2019 William co-founded PIOTech, Inc. and co-developed a hardware based live streaming encoder product called the EZ Streamer. The EZ Streamer is the first hardware encoder product designed for the purpose of using standard commercial IP cameras to stream to services such as YouTube or Facebook Live. Currently all of the PixCams webcams used the EZ Streamer product.