Interoperability for IP-based video surveillance systems is still a problem, as ONVIF is still not mature as a standard, yet. Products that are ONVIF compliant are not necessarily interoperable. Downward compatibility is another problem that generates confusion and frustration. The lack of coordination between cameras and other products ultimately cause headaches for systems integrators. Progress, however, is being made.
ONVIF recently introduced its "profile" concept, which is intended to allow users to "identify features supported by a profile without determining the compatibility between versions of the ONVIF specification." Instead of looking up whether specific devices using ONVIF 2.0 or later are compatible with clients that conform to ONVIF 1.0, users simply choose a profile that "offers interoperability at a specific functional level between units and software that fits their needs."
Currently, only one profile has been introduced: Profile S. It "describes the common functionalities shared by ONVIF conformant video management systems and devices such as IP cameras or encoders that sends, configures, requests or controls the streaming of media data over an IP network. The profile includes specific features such as pan, tilt, zoom control, audio streaming and relay outputs." ONVIF promises more profiles are coming this year, and that they will ease the product selection process for users.
As the quality of video increases, so will the storage capacity required to store the larger images. Seagate estimates video surveillance generates around 18 million terabytes of data per week. However, simply using additional, larger hard drives is not the solution. Many additional problems arise when more hard drives are needed, such as tighter spaces, higher temperatures, stronger vibration and increased power consumption. The accumulated affect reduces reliability and performance of a video surveillance system.
Seagate and Western Digital are touting storage solutions specific for video surveillance to address its unique storage requirements. Both hard drive giants have products targeting video, placing emphasis on tailored performance, lower energy consumption, reduced vibration, higher reliability and longer MTBF.
Hard drives had a disastrous 2011, with prices hikes in rare earth metals and natural disasters in Japan and Thailand. Though the worst is behind us, it may take until Q3 or Q4 for production to return to previous levels. As of march, supply for high-capacity hard drives is still constrained.
Regarding solid-state storage, price per gigabyte is difficult to justify when a lot of storage is required. Currently, SSD remains complementary technology that is best suited for applications that require exceptional performance, but can get by with low storage capacity. Beyond 500GB, SSD becomes cost prohibitive for most applications.
The cost for SD cards, on the other hand, is continuously dropping, though storage capacity remains static. While SDXC has been increasingly used in the consumer market, few camera manufacturers support beyond HCSD, which maxes out at 32GB. As storage on edge devices becomes more and more common and prices drop for SD cards that are capable of 64GB and beyond, perhaps more manufacturers will soon support the new standard.
A big trend in security is the adoption of cloud-based services and generation of RMR. Mobile platforms and cloud-based services are either ready or planned, with camera and access control manufacturers preparing for the inevitable boom of mobile devices. However, there seems to be few open platforms when it comes to the cloud. At the moment, manufacturers are still playing their own games. In addition, while cloud-based services will no doubt become common in the near future, vendors still need to address concerns over data security and bandwidth consumption.
Chinese manufacturers may have a disadvantage when it comes to networks and data. Australia recently banned Chinese network vendor Huawei from bidding on contracts for Australia's National Broadband Network. Considering the allegations regarding China's cyber attacks on the rest of the world, users may not be comfortable with entrusting their data to Chinese companies or companies that reside their servers in China.
In Other News
Many camera manufacturers are touting improved low light performance and WDR, which has become pretty much a standard feature. Also, average megapixel count seems to be increasing to three megapixels, though the current sweet spot is still at two. Cameras with wireless connectivity are also becoming increasingly common.
Momentum of 180/360-degree imaging continues to build up, with camera manufacturers introducing or refreshing their 180/360-degree imaging solutions. Chip manufacturers such as Ambarella, Avisonic Technology, Geo Semiconductor, Intersil Techwell and Nextchip are also building hardware-based lens distortion compensation into their chips. In addition, whereas in the past camera manufacturers generally had to convince software vendors to support dewarping for their 180/360 cameras, ImmerVision's "ImmerVision Enables" ecosystem ensures compatibility with other certified products. Many major VMS vendors already support the technology.
Video surveillance also gains depth of view with Huperlab's stereo 3-D camera. Using two lenses instead of one, the stereo camera mimics the human eye and calculates depth in the scene, which greatly enhances the practicality of video analytics by eliminating many types of false positives.
An interesting product introduced by Utechzone is a credential authorization terminal that utilizes pupil-tracking technology. Specializing in gaze-based interaction devices for people with motor impairments, Utechzone takes their technology to security. The technology allows users to enter passcodes into the terminal via pupil movement, complete with virtual panic and intercom "buttons."
Refining the experience of using existing product types is also critical. Attempting to address configuration irritations, Merit LILIN introduced an NVR that allows configuration via touch screen; no keyboard or mouse required. To reduce installation pains, PoE is included in more product types and is now better accepted than it was a year ago.
Time and attendance loggers are also increasingly moving away from paper or tokens. Systems from manufacturers like Hundure Technology and Fingertec bring biometrics into this area, though markets with stronger hygiene awareness may prefer contactless options, such as face recognition, over fingerprint or finger vein recognition.
Another product trend is entry-level cameras targeted at home surveillance and retail. Utilizing existing expertise to design consumer-oriented products is a smart move, as the potential volume is huge. The market, in terms of units shipped, for DIY video surveillance cameras has been doubling each year, and is expected to surpass professional security in the next few years. Characteristics are wireless, high-resolution network cameras that are low cost, aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.