A decade in the making: VCA takes center stage (1)

In 2006, intelligent video software, also known as video content analysis (VCA) or video analytics, was chosen as a&s International's Prime Product of the Year. At that time, VCA was called a “coming-of-age” product. Since then, VCA vendors and security players alike have been eagerly waiting for the other VCA shoe to drop. For years, the security industry has been wondering whether or not “this” was the year for VCA, the turning point. Unfortunately, reality is that moment has yet to come. However, something new is brewing in 2014. This year, VCA vendors and security players sense that this really is the year for VCA. The global video analytics market was estimated to be worth US$250 million in 2012 and is expected to reach around $1.3 billion in 2017 at a CAGR of 38.6 percent from 2012 to 2017, according to a September 2012 report published by MarketsandMarkets. The Americas will lead the market with APAC observed to grow at the highest rate, primarily due to the growth of technology and increasing awareness for network video surveillance. Additionally, non-security applications of video analytics in entertainment and visual communications are considered lucrative markets, according to the report.

Although the VCA market has encountered many a speed bump, improved technology and continued market education have helped VCA overcome some of its initial challenges. Key factors driving the video analytics market, according to the MarketsandMarkets report, include the transition of video surveillance systems from analog to IP-based, emergence of open standards, and increase in the efficiency of video surveillance systems. However, the market still faces many challenges: complexity, higher cost of maintenance, and the occurrence of false alarms. Despite these challenges, VCA vendors and security companies are ready to assure end users that all of these issues are being dealt with and that the benefit of video analytics far outweighs the hiccups.

Survival of the Fittest
In a constantly changing and ever evolving market where competition continues to get fiercer, adapting to change is the key to survival. However, as VCA has become a larger part of the security industry, how companies have chosen to adapt over the years has varied. While many of the companies that were founded in the early days have since been acquired or closed their doors, some have been able to ride the wave of change without making any huge modifications to their original business model, while others have changed with the technology and learned to adapt to their environment.

One of the easiest and most commons ways to get into the VCA market is to partner up with well-known VCA vendors, which many companies have done. Video analytics on the edge is a growing trend in the security industry and video management software (VMS) vendors have both realized the value of incorporating VCA technology into their offerings. While some have developed their own video analytics, the majority have partnered with VCA vendors to create a value-added product. Aleksandr Jesikov, Account Manager of Luxriot, a supplier of VMS, bundled with VCA, explained, “Due to the nature of our software, we realized that VCA will play an essential part in the video surveillance industry. Since it is most important for us to offer the best products and technologies to our customers, we decided to use the VCA core from a time and market proven partner as a value-added feature.”

Regardless of whether or not companies develop their own or partner with established VCA companies, the thing to focus on is how VCA is spreading through the security industry like a wildfire.

If it Ain't Broke…Software Success
As the benefits of VCA in security have become more evident, more and more security companies have added VCA to their product offering as an added-value service, but a handful of companies that came up in the VCA market as strictly VCA software providers have been able to maintain their original business model without needing to change.

Success as a pure VCA software vendor has not been easy, which is evident in the amount of companies that have disappeared from the market over the last decade. But some software-only companies have been able to find success — enough success for them to not need to expand into the hardware side of things. Companies like ObjectVideo (OV), Agent Intelligent Video (Agent Vi), VCA Technology, etc., have been able to stay true to their original mission of being pure VCA software providers due their strong presence in the market. This does not mean, though, that these companies have not grown and expanded.

OV made headlines a few years ago when they began a series of legal battles with some of the biggest names in the security industry for intellectual property infringement. As one of the biggest names in video analytics, and a software-only provider, OV's lawsuits resulted in a flood of video surveillance companies quickly entering into patent licensing agreements with the company. Now, many of the security industry's biggest players — including but not limited to Bosch Security Systems, Pelco by Schneider Electric, Sony, VIVOTEK, and most recently FLIR Systems and Hikvision — have patent licensing agreements with the company. Their success in software, along with their patent licensing program, has allowed the company to focus on the software without needing to expand outside of their focus.

One software company that has not seen a need to change is Agent Vi. Founded in 2003, the company is focused exclusively on developing VCA software and applications. With a successful business model already in place, Zvika Ashani, CTO of Agent Vi, pointed out that the company sees no reason to change. “We've been able to build a global channel program and distribute our software, and we don't see any reason to expand to other areas,” said Ashani. Additionally, with an ecosystem of technology partners that include camera manufacturers and video management software (VMS) vendors, Agent Vi sees no reason to try and fix something that is not broken.

 

Another company that has stayed true to its VCA software roots is VCA Technology. Founded seven years ago as a specialist OEM video analytics provider, VCA Technology is focused on providing VCA software libraries for manufacturers of cameras, VMS, and DVRs to build into their products. The company's SDK provides the foundation for many companies' video analytics. Initially, VCA Technology was concentrated on security and perimeter protection, but as demand in the market has evolved, the company has broadened into other areas such as counting, retail, and web-based applications. “We have shipped 170,000 units so far, but with the wider market in mind, we are broadening the range of supported platforms to include Windows, Linux, PC, and embedded processors,” said Geoff Thiel, CEO of VCA Technology.

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