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INSIGHTS

ALPR technology gone mainstream

ALPR technology gone mainstream
Back in 2008, the global ALPR market was worth roughly US$119 million, according to IMS Research (part of IHS); by the end of 2012, it had expanded to $350.4 million, a 6.9-percent increase from 2011. As the market continues to grow and needs evolve, a&s takes stock of recent developments.

Back in 2008, the global ALPR market was worth roughly US$119 million, according to IMS Research (part of IHS); by the end of 2012, it had expanded to $350.4 million, a 6.9-percent increase from 2011. As the market continues to grow and needs evolve, a&s takes stock of recent developments.

Market acceptability of the ALPR technology has grown considerably. “Not too many years ago, if you were trying to market the technology, you had to show it in operation; people had to see that it was a real and viable product,” said Jim Kennedy, President of Inex/Zamir. “Today, in most markets, this ‘proof' is not required to the same degree; it is a proven technology.” Deployments have, thus, become more commonplace and commoditized.

Algorithms are becoming more intelligent, and camera engineering is nearing perfection. “Numbers aside, I envision we will see a few new suppliers entering the low end of the market throughout 2013,” Kennedy said.

Tech Breakthroughs
The technology has come a long way since the prototypes were introduced in the U.K. in 1979. “The technology is unobtrusive, and yet yields substantial and quantifiable results,” said Charles Cousins, MD of APAC at Genetec. “From opening access gates automatically to detecting criminals, the technology has progressed and shown its usefulness in many disciplines.”

Some are also able to provide additional information, “such as car make and model with the same ALPR system, which to date was only available with video analytics,” said Meta Rotenberg, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Hi-Tech Solutions. With the introduction of megapixel cameras, “much greater fields of view can be more easily obtained, translating into fewer cameras to cover a single lane,” Kennedy said. “They can also work with computers to handle larger-format images, and these two advances together have greatly improved the simplicity of supplying effective systems to several of our markets,” Kennedy said.

Getting Cloudy
ALPR today is also available on cloud-based platforms. “The user does not need to keep anything on site or maintain video-recording hardware. You pay your subscription fee, and you get guaranteed results,” said Durairaj Gireraj, Director for APAC at Axxonsoft. “You are almost never going to have unplanned expenses, which should encourage broader adoption overall.”

Working with Microsoft and its Azure platform, Genetec is expected to deliver its cloud-based ALPR service in the first half of 2013. End users will benefit from the ease of use and lower TCO. “Cloud technology will be exploding moving forward. The benefits are huge in terms of cost, security of assets, reliability, and most importantly, resource savings,” Cousins said.

Room for Growth
While opportunities for ALPR abound, challenges remain. Taking the U.S. for example; license plates come in all formats, pictures and fonts for the various states. Region- or country-specific languages and characters further complicate the algorithms. “While technology is improving and the majority of plates can be handled, reading Arabic plates correctly still remains challenging,” said Arnaud Lannes, Product Marketing Manager of Video Systems for Bosch Security Systems. “The recognition process is more complex due to cursive letters.”

Currently, some systems claim up to 99 percent accuracy. However, only through regular quality maintenance and calibration can those systems attain the 99-percent recognition accuracy rate, cautioned Wuning Jian, Product Manager at Hikvision Digital Technology.

With proper checks and balances, this technology may very well serve as a garage door opener one day in the not so distant future.



Product Adopted:
Network Cameras
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