Innovation and Tailored Solutions for US Market
a&s International | Date:
While awareness for HD-SDI has grown considerably in EMEA and Asia, people are not as interested in it in North America where IP is generally preferred, said Jeff Whitney, VP of Marketing and Business Development, Intransa.
On the camera side, camera manufacturers are touting improved low-light performance and WDR, while also increasing in pixel count. Arecont Vision's megapixel WDR cameras, for example, combine long and short exposures in the same video frame to provide greater detail in both bright and dark areas of the picture, said Mark Espenschied, Senior Marketing Manager at Arecont Vision.
Right now, 1,080p video has become pretty commonplace. In two to three years, we may be seeing another wave of upgrades. 4K resolution features four times as many pixels as 1,080p, and it has already begun seeping into the hands of tech-savvy consumers, said Bengt Christensson, Senior Marketing Director for Ambarella.
There will always be a need for higher resolutions, and with increased volume and falling prices for image sensors, it will not be long until adoption begins to pick up, Christensson continued. On another note, the 2012 London Olympics will be recording and transmitting some 4K content.
For 180/360-degree imaging continues to build up, with even chip manufacturers such as Ambarella building hardware-based lens distortion compensation directly onto its chips. 360-degree imaging in video surveillance has not been practical until recently due to technical limitations, but with larger image sensors and faster frame rates, Christensson thinks it is ready for prime time.
Also, an increasing number of camera manufacturers are beginning to replace fisheye lenses with panomorph ones. They use a larger area of the image sensor, and are already supported by many major software vendors, such Milestone Systems and On-Net Surveillance Systems (OnSSI).
Cloud-based services are all the rage these days, but end users are still evaluating the offerings on the market. You have to place a lot of trust in your service provider, and if you have a mission-critical system, you are not going to accept it, Bob McCarthy, MD of the U.S., TKH Security Solutions. He believes that the market potential for managed services has already arrived for the residential market, with light commercial to follow soon. Enterprise customers, however, may find it very difficult to take that leap of faith.
As demand for IP and open solutions has grown, so have business opportunities grown for making life easier for integrators. "We sell directly to integrators. We save them the hassle of buying a brand or generic PC and figuring out the right configuration and all the integration requirements for all the different software types," Whitney said. What companies like Intransa do is provide appliances that are basically traditional storage boxes, but preconfigured for compliance with different security vendors and products.
"We compete with a lot of people in different spaces, but there's no one that looks like us," Whitney said. Perhaps something is wrong with this picture, because it is pretty obvious that many traditional security professionals need help in minimizing the IT headaches and continue to supply the market with their expertise.
Innovative Security Designs (ISD), founded in late 2011 by former IQinVision CTO Ian Johnston, approaches this problem from the front end. "Many network cameras are developed in their own little worlds, with a lot of features that most people don't care about," said Johnston, now President and CEO of ISD.
At the end of the day, people buy cameras to solve problems, not for cool features, Johnston continued. So he set out to reimagine how cameras deliver value to system integrators and end users.
In his experience with system integrators, Johnston came to the conclusion that what they wanted, more than anything, in a network camera was simplified and automated network settings and configurations. If you look at the consumer world, almost every gadget is IP-connected, may it be a tablet computer, smartphone or printer, Johnston said, but they do not require time-consuming, mind-boggling network setup on the user's part.
About 60 to 70 percent of cameras sold today are still analog, not only because they are extremely mature and work very well, but also because IP-based systems are simply too much hassle. ISD attempts to marry analog's simplicity, via "zero touch" installation, with megapixel's sophistication and image quality.
Some manufacturers are catering to increased sensitivity to price, some getting fed up with the competition of me-too features, some reimagining security products for HD and IP-based systems and still others filling voids and identifying new business opportunities.
Avigilon is probably one of the fastest growing companies in video surveillance. It essentially reimagined video surveillance from the ground up to better fit HD and IP networks, said Keith Marett, VP of Marketing and Communications at Avigilon. "We were new and came in at the right time, and designed the system the right way from the very beginning. In contrast, competitors with existing systems tried to adapt, tweak or change to allow for the new digital wave." Avigilon's products, Marett said, are developed solely for the new era.
Others saw a void in the wireless camera department and decided to move in. "The entire camera was designed from the ground up to consume very little power and effectively transmit video wirelessly," said Allyn Pon, Director of Product Management. MicroPower Technologies. The camera is a compact unit with integrated solar panels and batteries; one could simply pick it up and pluck it anywhere.
As different industries have different requirements for security, vertical-specific components are necessary and so is the need for stronger integration of the components. Open solutions and standards are more important than ever.
ONVIF recently introduced "profiles," which take version compatibility out of the equation for users and let them easily determine supported features. Currently, the sole profile is the S, which "describes the common functionalities shared by ONVIF-conformant VMS and devices such as IP cameras or encoders that send, configure, request or control the streaming of media data over an IP network. The profile includes specific features such as PTZ control, audio streaming and relay outputs."
However, working with a single vendor is always easier, and some system integrators prefer a vertically integrated total solution. "When there's a problem, they know there's a single point of contact to go to. Logistically, it's just easier to work with a single company," McCarthy said. "That said, we do embrace integration with other systems. For example, some verticals need specific VMS, such as those for casinos or intelligent transportation."
Speaking of casinos, Keith thinks the market potential is big, but it is not exactly up for grabs. "You see in casinos 3,000 or 4,000 cameras for each site, so obviously that's a big market. Most casinos in Las Vegas still use analog cameras and VCRs for recording. When you switch those cameras to HD, you have a huge load of bandwidth, and you need a system that can handle that."
Retail is also taking off quite a bit, Keith continued. "They're seeing more and more what HD video surveillance systems can provide, in terms of ROI, and how they can improve the bottom line." Good guy applications are also an area Avigilon is focusing on in its education.
Panasonic is focusing on solutions tailored for specific applications, such as gaming, retail, education and public safety.
In terms of working with a single vendor, ADT Global Accounts lends a helping hand to companies with global footprints that wish to standardize integrated security solutions. With a Global Center of Excellence in Alabama pulling in resources from all over the world, ADT Global takes care of the designing for its multinational customers, while local teams of installers are given detailed instructions and diagrams to follow, said Renae Leary, Senior Director for Global Accounts, Tyco Integrated Security, previously part of ADT Worldwide. "This unit really began because so many customers were asking for our help in standardizing and integrating geographically disparate security systems."