While the noPhoto is a highly advanced piece of equipment, the concept behind its operation is elegantly simple. Here is how a typical traffic camera encounter would happen with the noPhoto installed on your car:
The traffic camera fires its flash to illuminate your car for a picture
The noPhoto detects the flash, analyzes it, and sends the proper firing sequence to its own xenon flashes
The noPhoto precisely times and fires the flash at the exact moment needed to overexpose the traffic camera
Since the traffic camera is not expecting the additional light from the noPhoto, all of its automated settings are incorrect and the image is completely overexposed. Your license plate cannot be seen and you will not get a ticket in the mail.
Here's a video that shows how it works:
And here's a video showing the performance of the flash detection circuitry:
Finally, here's a video showing an early noPhoto prototype reacting against real-life speed cameras.
Critically overexposing an image is not a new concept; the thought may have crossed your mind, "Why has nobody done this before?" The answer is simple - nobody else has invested this level of expertise, time, and capital into solving this problem. There are several highly technical challenges that we overcame to make the noPhoto a success. Our team includes electrical and mechanical engineering professionals that have worked on military and even NASA technologies. Every aspect of the noPhoto's design has been thought through and refined - it has a purpose.
To understand the noPhoto, it helps to have a basic understanding of photography. Generally speaking, the amount of light that a camera collects while taking a picture is called "exposure." If there is not enough light, than the final picture will be too dark to see much. Conversely, if there is too much light, the picture will be too bright to see. At the most basic level, what the noPhoto does is make the license plate portion of the image too bright for the camera's sensor to handle. The noPhoto is so powerful that it causes what are called "blown highlights" - that is, the brightness is so overwhelming that the camera sees the image as a featureless field of white light. As you can see in the image below, the camera simply can't see the license plate.
This is a picture with the noPhoto activated.
One of the most difficult parts of the noPhoto's design was engineering the proprietary flash detection circuitry. Some of you photographers out there may be thinking, "But wait! We've had optical slave flash triggers for years!" This is true, but what you also know is that optical flash triggers are useless outdoors beyond several feet due to infrared interference. This is why radio flash triggers are preferred in the photographic industry.
What we've managed to do is develop flash detection circuitry that can detect a typical traffic enforcement flash as far away as 150+ feet in direct sunlight. It can even detect less powerful consumer camera flashes up to 60 feet away in direct sunlight. In overcast or nighttime conditions, the range nearly doubles. Since the vast majority of traffic camera encounters occur inside of 150 feet, this provides excellent protection from camera tickets.
Once we solved the distance problem, another issue cropped up. Our 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! While false triggers aren't inherently a huge problem, they do slightly reduce bulb life so we wanted to eliminate them. We discovered that by creating powerful filtering circuitry, we could do real-time analysis of the detected light. This hardware filtering circuit allowed us to reduce false alerts by over 90%.
Here are some pictures of the noPhoto showing off its range and timing capabilities (click to enlarge)
The noPhoto detects and reacts to a flash from over 100 feet away
A telephoto zoom lens at 200mm shows the noPhoto reacting to the flash from over 100 feet away
A close-up shot of the noPhoto firing
On top of our careful engineering and thoughtful design, each component that we use is of the highest quality. We use massive, over-sized flash capacitors, and resistors, diodes, and plastic rated well in excess of the typical operating temperatures of a car. The noPhoto Pro also has several user-friendly features, such as a bulb test button and update-able firmware that ensures it will never become obsolete.
We've put a tremendous amount of thought, work, and sweat into the noPhoto. We know it will protect you well.