Local News

TV Show, Police Get High-Tech Help From Cary Company

Posted December 16, 2004 11:59 a.m. EST

— From the war on terrorism to catching local criminals, law enforcement is getting more high tech and a Cary company is leading the way.

Television shows like "Navy NCIS" make science and technology look cool, but Hollywood does not always get it right.

"A lot of the things they are showing on the programs aren't true to reality, so many people in the industry roll their eyes at some of the things they're doing," said Clark Williams of Signalscape.

For an episode a few weeks ago, script writers for "Navy NCIS" called Signalscape of Cary. The company makes equipment that enhances problem video and audio.

"We gave them the proper terminology to use and they went through the whole process. So, we have to say that scene they did was forensically correct," Williams said.

The show even gave a company product a plug.

Signalscape's real-life clients are federal and local law enforcement agencies.

They helped Cary police catch the thief who they said stole an ATM. The ATM camera captured a picture of the truck that was used, but the quality was bad.

Signalscape enhanced the image, making the phone number on the side of the truck clear.

The company can also take a dark image and brighten it enough to reveal the type of car and a cat underneath it. If video is shaky, the company can stabilize it where the license plate can be read.

Signalscape is busier than ever.

"It's not that more crime is increasing. It's that a lot more crime is being caught on video," Williams said.

Often, it is poor quality video -- making this kind of technology cool for TV and a necessity for law enforcement.

The FBI used similar video enhancement software while investigating the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta. The agency poured through hours of dark, grainy home video until they found an image of who they say is Eric Rudolph.