Korea thrives on its R&D strength and highly developed technology. Manufacturers are honing their product capabilities for next-generation security. That means intelligent systems, innovative functions and quality performance.
According to executives at Korean companies, the surveillance market will grow by more than 40 percent over the next several years. Customers, they noted, prefer products with sophisticated, yet easy-to-use functions. Profit margins, however, are being squeezed because of price wars. Most finish products in Korea to achieve higher quality, but higher production costs leave less room to cut prices. Most have chosen to add value, say software enhancement, instead. Another option is to explore new markets, especially in developing countries.
Convergence of the IT and security industries is impelling flourishing growth of DVR products with one emerging trend: development of intelligent IP surveillance. Last year, Win4NET Co. Ltd started selling network and DVR products with a special focus on intelligent DVRsthose with video analytics. In addition, its DVRs feature a range of special functions, including moving object extraction and tracking, adaptive preprocessing, abandon and stolen object detection, people counting, loitering detection, and camera sabotage detection. "Our total management software NetSafe DVR Management System (NDMS) allows users to control up to 99 Win4NET DVRs," said Danny Lim, Manager of Overseas Business at Win4NET Co. Ltd. The system also supports local DVRs with settings like searching, mapping, alarm management and health checks. "We plan to reinvest 10 percent of annual revenue in R&D this year," added Lim.
Rifatron Co. Ltd.known for making the first standalone DVR with audio detection and 480 frame-per-second recordinghas boosted intelligent functions to enable users to talk to DVRs via CMS software and vice versa. Furthermore, DVR time can be synchronized via global positioning systems.
"In order to add more features and customized functions, we are working on making our own chips and upgrading components," said Mark Song, Sales and Marketing Director of Rifatron Co. Ltd. Work on adding presentation reporting is also ongoing. "When an event occurs, the CMS alerts users, the police and security guards via an alarm, email or mobile phone. The purpose is to analyze events with JPFG or PDF files," explained Song. This informs users in real time and provides a clear understanding of the exact circumstances. In the future, Rifatron will concentrate on high-definition, XVGA-quality standalone products.
Aside from intelligent systems, user-friendly interfaces are another important aspect. Rifatron's versatile MPEG-4 DVR, for example, features four hard-disk drives with handles that enable users to pull them out from the front. Users can, thus, change disks without stopping recording. Moreover, it is equipped with internal mirroring so video and audio data in the hard-disk drives can be copied on another hard drive with a RAID1 system. This model has easy backup and control provided by the USB and DVD-RW in the front.
"We have been focusing on high-end products and large projects in a variety of applications and markets," said Song. These include government and public services; banking and finance; hotels and entertainment; retail; education; industrial; and commercial sectors throughout Europe and Asia.
FDRs, Mobile DVRs Hitting the Market
The first facial detection and recognition DVR (FDR) on the market was introduced by Artnix Inc. The company also invented the first real-time, multichannel display as well as the first real-time DVR for the standalone market. The Artnix FDR provides real-time facial recognition and authentication via a CMS server and allows 1,000 registrations so users can avoid problems stemming from ID card loss or password exposure.
Artnix DVR products come with block search, data recovery, HDD expansion drives), more than three months of recording, and data redundancy (both mirroring and N-to-1 backup). The mirroring does not rely on one-to-one configuration. All DVRs are compatible with the dedicated software that allows viewing of up to 256 cameras simultaneously or with the latest central management software that incorporates an unlimited number of DVRs and IP servers for effective and visual management across up to six PC monitors.
The mobile DVR business is also expanding rapidly. The products monitor and record events in moving locations. Public transportation, such as buses and trains, is seeing increased use of the devices. "Mobile DVRs reduce power consumption and increase reliability because they use SD cards instead of hard-disk drives," pointed out You Sung Choi, CEO at PROSTAR Co. Ltd.
In addition, the DVRs support GPS and G sensors. PROSTAR's DVR series is based on MPEG-4 codecs and provides real-time surveillance via the Internet. PROSTAR has also ventured into transmitters because "they have more outer interfaces than DVRs," said Choi. "They not only offer video surveillance but also connectivity to other security products; they are total security solutions, themselves."
PCMS (POSTAR's control monitoring system) software supervises from the outside. "You can watch DVR images on PCMS via the Internet all over the world," said Choi. "Our PCMS supports nearly all DVR functions and several DVRs concurrently. It is more economic because we support dynamic IP that saves on surcharges for static IP."
Enhancing Camera Performance
CCTV camera manufacturers are differentiating themselves and their products to win out in highly competitive markets. "We invest more than 5 percent of annual turnover in R&D to design and make products that use our own technology," said Ohin Kwon, CMO of Huviron Co. Ltd. Focusing on high-speed dome cameras, the company has released mini PTZ cameras with 10x optical zoom that allows distant subjects to be tracked and observed in detail. Its compact dome cameras feature fast panning speeds- -maximum of 90 degrees per second. Huviron developed a new mechanism to quickly exchange filters in its day-night cameras without malfunction.
Another top product comes from Avico Co. Ltd, whose pivotal technology has enabled it to manufacturer true, day-night, IR LED cameras, which have built-in IR, cut-filter, removable mechanisms (ICRs) for better image quality. "Most manufacturers use filter change lens for true day-night cameras, but our built-in mechanism changes filters-IR cut filter and dummy filter-in front of the CCD not the lens," explained Jun Ho Ham, Director of Avico Co. Ltd. The camera also has an aspherical lens to prevent internal reflection and correct distortion in ultra-wide-angle lenses. All lenses are outsourced to Japan.
Wonwoo Engineering Co. Ltd., a manufacturer of PTZ, vandal-resistant, speed dome cameras and housings, and other CCTV equipment, is looking mostly to high-end dome cameras, mini PTZ cameras and CCTV testers. The company has its own mold and injection factory to guarantee accurate, customized production.
MPEG -4, H.264, Biometrics Leading the Pack
Many Korean companies are now making their own chips, specifically MPEG-4 codec ICs and H.264 SOCs. "We have released MPEG-4 codec ICs for last three years and finally did H.264 SOCs in this September; we are also developing DSP ICs for CCTV cameras," said Joo Ho Kim, Chief Marketing Officer and Managing Director of Pentamicro Inc. The company benefits from cutting-edge technology in multi-channel and multi-standard supports, motion detection, water marking, and so on. "We have our own proprietary know-how and technology accumulated through the business with MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 and H.264. Our strengths are well experienced R&D engineers with 10 years of experience in compression algorithms."
Biometric authentication is being applied in high-risk areas. Demand for biometric systems in Korea is driving expansion. IDTECK Co. Ltd, which specializes in RFID, biometrics, control panels and smart-card products, aims to deliver entire access control solutions, including hardware and software. To supply superior security and enhanced convenience, the company has come up with a multiple-identification model, which bands RFID technology with fingerprint and facial recognition systems, using patented encryption algorithms to protect biometric data on cards. All IDTECK cards are unique and cannot be copied or altered.
"With our high-level R&D capabilities, we produce solutions based on local needs. To satisfy customers worldwide, localization is key," pointed out Karina Kwak, Chief Manager of Global Marketing and Sales at IDTECK Co. Ltd. Company representatives visit each market at least once or twice a year and, every six months, IDTECK meets with distributors to discuss their needs. Kwak points to the company's two-year warranty, online and offline marketing, and classes and seminars as underpinning IDTECK's success in the market.
Meanwhile, Suprema Inc.a leading Korean company in biometrics touts its fingerprint OEM modules, fingerprint access control systems and embedded applications. Its core fingerprint recognition algorithm received an award during a fingerprint verification competition for having the lowest error rate. BioStation and BioEntry promise greater accuracy and efficiency as well as faster processing. Suprema has expanded buyer options by offering multisensor support, including optical, thermal, capacitive and electric field sensors. Suprema products are now sold in more than 80 countries.
Hardware Compression Boards
Three years ago, CHANCE-i Co. Ltd. was the first to release hardware compression boards on the Korean market . This year, the company introduced its second model with 16 channels (video/audio) and its first with 32 channels (video/audio), which are made of one-card or two-card design. Resolution can be switched from CIF to D1, and the operating software enables POS web search, 32-channel real-time display and full-frame recording without burdening the CPU. It interconnects with access control systems and users can easily change the GUI (choice of more than 50). Finally, its CMS connects thousands of cameras and provides notification of motion and sensor activity. Except for PCB processing, manufacturing and engineering is done entirely inhouse.
"In parallel with marketing our PC-based DVRs," stressed Un Yun Kim, Sales Director of CHANCE-i Co. Ltd, "we are planning to manufacture Video Server and standalone DVRs. We wanted to wait until we could guarantee the quality. I think that was the right decision. If we had tried to be the first out with such a product, but failed to deliver a quality device, eventually, we would have lost our customers."
Wanted: A Digital Residential Culture
In 1968, COMMAX Co. Ltd was one of the world's first companies to export home automation appliances. It obtained the world's first UL certification for videophones and holds a number of patents. "COMMAX home network systems can also be connected to PDAs and mobile phones to enable users to supervise and remotely control their home while away," said Bong Duk Byun, CEO of COMMAX. Co. Ltd "We are creating a new lifestyle. We want to give people a comfortable, secure and fun life. We believe that technological advances can help achieve that goal and, ultimately, everyone can enjoy the convenience and enrichment of the Digital Era."
Kocom Co. Ltd.strong in digital imaging and communication network technologieshas set up wireless home network and voice recognition access control that greatly advances convenience and security. "To ensure quality, we do strict inspections from incoming components to finished products," said Joon K. Park, General Manager of Kocom. Co. Ltd. The company is fully automated with an SMT machine line to improve production efficiency.
"Home networks are prompting changes in lifestyles; people want more convenience and safer environments," said Park. "I expect that the industry will see very strong growth over the next several years. We are searching for new customers in upscale markets, such as IT."