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The future of low-light surveillance: predictions and trends

The future of low-light surveillance: predictions and trends
Here's summary of insights, highlighting the significant upcoming trends, research, and prospective advances in low-light video surveillance.
The significance of low-light video surveillance in the security industry cannot be exaggerated. Whether for private residential security, industrial premises, or public spaces, there is a constant demand for optimal visibility in low-light conditions. As the industry advances into the future, technological advances are expected to redefine low-light surveillance standards.
In order to comprehend these shifts and future developments, we consulted three industry experts: Hiroshi Ochiai, Director of Alliances, Portfolio, and Customer Services for APAC at Axis Communications, Rubio Hong, Product Director at Hikvision, and Hamish Dobson, Corporate VP for Product, Video Security, and Access Control at Motorola Solutions. Their perspectives depict a bright future for low-light video surveillance, replete with advancements in image sensors, thermal imaging, artificial intelligence (AI), and numerous other fields.
The purpose of this article is to provide a summary of these insights, highlighting the significant upcoming trends, research, and prospective advances in low-light video surveillance. As physical security installers, integrators, and consultants, remaining abreast of these developments is essential to preserving your competitive advantage. Let's explore the future of low-light video surveillance, as envisioned by our industry's top minds.

New image sensor innovations

Stepping into the spotlight of our discussion is the theme of image sensor innovations. Hiroshi Ochiai from Axis Communications leads us into this narrative, highlighting two pivotal developments in the sector.
Firstly, the industry is constantly pushing the boundaries with larger image sensors. These new, sizable sensors promise to revolutionize low-light video surveillance by enhancing low-light sensitivity, enabling clearer and more detailed surveillance footage even in the darkest conditions. This development spells a significant advancement in monitoring efficiency, potentially reducing the blind spots that low-light environments often pose.
Beyond the size of sensors, there is a fascinating world of research and development unfurling in the realm of image sensor technologies. Though these technologies are still in their infancy and it may be some time before they are commercially viable, they have the potential to provide innovative solutions to low-light challenges.
An interesting intersection of technologies emerges as Ochiai points out the application of radar and laser technologies in surveillance systems, an initiative Axis has already embarked on. The company's development of a security radar device and a radar-video fusion camera testifies to this. Radar technology permits object detection and classification even in complete darkness, while the use of laser focus features in PTZ cameras ensures instant sharp focus under low-light conditions. This trend of borrowing technologies from other industries and integrating them into video surveillance could play a transformative role in combating the challenges posed by low-light conditions.

Advancements in thermal imaging

The field of thermal imaging is no stranger to continuous advancements, a narrative remarkably shared by Ochiai. These advancements promise to shape the future of low-light video surveillance in transformative ways.
Firstly, there's an exciting trend of increased sensitivity in thermal sensors. Enhanced sensitivity means longer detection ranges, a crucial factor for efficient surveillance in low-light scenarios. Further, this improvement also contributes to reducing false alarm rates, an ongoing challenge in the surveillance industry. The resulting cost-saving implications are profound - longer detection distances imply fewer installation poles, less cabling, and reduced manpower requirements, thereby lowering the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the system.
Equally revolutionary is the trend of reduced power consumption in thermal cameras. These cameras, not reliant on light for object detection, significantly cut power consumption, leading to lower operating costs. Additionally, the reduced need for lighting also means less light pollution - a positive step towards more environmentally-friendly surveillance solutions.
Finally, Ochiai discusses the potential of bi-spectral products, which merge the best of visual and thermal technology. This unique blend provides excellent thermal detection in conjunction with visual verification capabilities, delivering a comprehensive solution for low-light surveillance. The rise of such hybrid technologies could significantly redefine the low-light surveillance landscape in the coming years.

The role of artificial intelligence (AI)

Steering our discussion towards the realm of artificial intelligence, Rubio Hong from Hikvision and Hamish Dobson from Motorola Solutions shed light on AI's rising influence in low-light video surveillance.
“Last year, we worked with to conduct a survey about low-light imaging,” Hong said. “In the survey, we asked the respondents what future developments or trends they want or see for low-light security cameras, and a number of interesting things came up - AI as the main trend for low-light security cameras, higher image quality and resolution for low-light video security, low light color night vision technology, longer range/distance affordable price/cost reduction, and flexible supplemental lighting modes.”
Identified as a major trend for the future of low-light security cameras, AI applications are broad and rapidly evolving. One of the most notable applications is the enhancement of image quality and resolution, a development that promises clearer, more detailed low-light surveillance footage. This improvement is critical in various situations, from recognizing faces for security purposes to identifying objects in remote monitoring environments.
Beyond image quality, AI has profound implications for object detection accuracy. Dobson highlights how AI advancements are enhancing classified object detection, reducing false alarms—a prevalent issue in low-light surveillance. The prospect of highly accurate detection systems significantly streamlines security operations, providing more reliable alerts and conserving resources.
Moreover, AI has a role in amplifying the object detection range and distance, as both Hong and Dobson note. This ability to identify and classify objects from afar, regardless of the lighting conditions, opens up new possibilities for extensive surveillance coverage. Such advancements could be transformative, particularly in large-scale or remote monitoring scenarios where extended detection ranges are crucial.
The future of AI in low-light video surveillance looks bright, promising more accurate, efficient, and extensive surveillance capabilities. For security installers, integrators, and consultants, staying attuned to these AI developments will be crucial in maintaining a competitive edge.

Other significant developments

While breakthroughs in sensor technology, thermal imaging, and artificial intelligence account for the majority of projections for the future of low-light video surveillance, other significant developments are also influencing the scene.
The demand for low light color night vision technology is a key topic of focus. The requirement for more detailed and accurate image data during nighttime monitoring, where typical black and white feeds may not enough, is driving this demand. Color imaging can help determine important details such as the color of clothing or cars, perhaps leading to improvements in low-light security.
Another important trend is the desire for longer range and distance monitoring. Surveillance cameras capable of capturing high-quality images from extended distances are becoming increasingly important in a variety of scenarios, ranging from big industrial complexes to public safety applications. Technological advancements that support this capability will almost certainly be a major focus of future research and development.
Finally, cost and lighting issues are pushing innovation. There is a strong desire for more economical low-light surveillance solutions, prompting manufacturers to look for ways to cut costs without sacrificing functionality. Similarly, the creation of adaptable supplemental illumination modes—in which the camera adapts to changing lighting conditions—provides a promising route for improving low-light surveillance capabilities.
These innovations, together with advances in sensor technology, thermal imaging, and artificial intelligence, provide a holistic vision of the future terrain of low-light video surveillance. To effectively traverse the future, forward-thinking security installers, integrators, and consultants must remain on top of these trends.


Low-light video surveillance is poised for major advances. The landscape is evolving toward increased efficiency, adaptability, and precision due to advances in image sensor technology, thermal imaging, artificial intelligence, and other critical innovations.
These adjustments improve image quality and object detection range, which boost surveillance efficiency. Radar, laser, and bi-spectral goods indicate an integrative future. The industry's push for cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and high-performing technologies suggests a low-light surveillance paradigm shift.
These trends and advancements are crucial for security installers, integrators, and consultants to stay competitive. As the industry moves into this exciting future, remaining on the bleeding edge of technology will allow firms to provide the best solutions, fulfill customer requests, and create safer, more secure settings.
Low-light video surveillance has a bright future—paradoxically. This future requires innovation, learning, and adaptability. With these skills, low-light video surveillance experts may push the limits.
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