As video surveillance shifts to IP-based systems, NVR vendors in Asia are ready to ride the next wave.
The size of the global NVR market is estimated to be less than 10 percent of the DVR market, said Jong-Hun Kim, MD of Seyeon Tech. According to a recent study, there are about 400 million analog cameras currently installed worldwide, indicating that the market is still dominated by analog systems. However, surveillance moving toward IP is an unstoppable trend, as the demand for higher image resolution, larger storage capacity and more advanced features increases.
To make a smooth transition from analog to IP-based systems, one must first identify which type of NVRs would best fit their installation. "Unlike DVRs that focus on recording performance, NVRs are about transmission over IP network," said Kim.
Applications for NVRs vary widely. They tend to be used in large installations, such as government infrastructure, gaming, education, transportation, commercial and public surveillance, and take Win4Net for example, chain stores and airports.
Other examples include Seyeon Tech, with its systems in chain restaurants in the United States and convenience stores in Korea; Qnap Systems, in shopping malls, banks and chain stores; Hunt Electronic, targeting SOHO and small-to-medium businesses.
NVRs with in-house management software, such as Nuuo's and Instek Digital's, could be utilized for managing large installions like city surveillance and health care facilities.
Technology in Demand
System performance relies heavily on network stability and camera compatibility.
"Streaming engine is our forte," said Kim. "We have very low latency and stable retransmission that ensure overall system performance."
With experience in IP since 1998 and NVR experience since 2002, Seyeon Tech is confident about providing stable solutions. "In the future, more investment in video intelligence and improved video quality will be seen," said Kim.
Stability and compatibility are what Win4Net bank on. Currently, its NVRs support roughly 100 types of camera models. "Our key assets are our people," said Jin Lee, Assistant Marketing Manager at Win4Net. "Everyone here takes his job to the heart and gives his 100 percent, both in technology development and customer service."
Hunt Electronic highlighted image quality and streaming stability. "In general, NVRs on the market allow for viewing of megapixel images at D1 resolution," said Michael Lee, President. D1 affects image clarity, as file size and image dimensions are scaled down. "We use HDMI video output to maximize the output image quality of megapixel cameras."
For streaming stability, "each megapixel camera usually requires about 10 megabits to transmit streaming, and our aim is to offer one-gigabit network capacity for streaming," said Lee of Hunt.
High flexibility for customization is the key strength of Instek Digital's product. "We are an application-oriented company that has been tested and proven," said Lin. "Our IP-based products can be easily accessed with management software, and hierarchy management, account management and alarm functions could be included." Different features could also be added based on user needs.
Qnap Systems' NVRs are well tested in-house and by their distributors both in Japan and Western Europe. "With Linux embedded and hardware developed in-house, our system stability is highly acclaimed," said Jacky Cheng, Product Manager at Qnap Systems. Thanks to its hardworking R&D team, Qnap Systems' NVRs are currently compatible with more than 21 camera brands.
Open platform is the key to promoting NVRs, said Eric Lin, Marketing Manager at Nuuo. Nuuo's solution can serve small and large-scale applications alike. Furthermore, intelligent features such as motion detection could be included, Lin said.
Regardless of large or small installations, easy installation, stability and scalability are always top priorities for system integrators, said Cheng.
"Installers and integrators also ask for intuitive search functions through clilck-on-screen setups and easy configurations," said Lee at Hunt. "Comprehensive self diagnostics and remote maintenance capability are highly demanded as well, in case there are systems or electrical breakdowns."
Lack of market education and the relatively high cost of network cameras are the main obstacles hindering NVR market uptake. Additionally, differences in network camera protocols set the entry barrier for some NVR manufacturers. Codec compatibility with network cameras also affects time to market.
In analog systems, DVRs only have to compress received analog signals with their own compression technique, said Lee of Win4Net. In IP systems, however, NVRs have to be able to decode all the different codecs used by different network cameras in order to record and display.
"NVR makers often need to verify newly released network camera's protocols and carry on their own quality assurance to make sure their NVRs support these new cameras," said Lin. Therefore, NVRs need longer time to market, and R&D requires more investment to solve system compatibility issues.
Market acceptability is another challenge linked closely with market education. "Although IP has a lot of advantages, it takes a long time to sell IP products to end users," said Kim. "Resellers and installers have to have professional knowledge to convey the beauty and value propositions of IP to end users," Kim said. The key to success is, therefore, to partner with installers, system integrators and distributors who have experience with IP, and train them on a regular basis.
Price is also inhibiting market expansion, said Cheng. Given the same resolution, the cost for network cameras is still more than that of analog cameras. Hence, many do not see the immediate need for a switch when their existing analog systems work just fine, further thwarting the adoption of NVRs. "It's the supply side that's pushing," said Lin.
For NVRs to become more pervasive in use, lower price and more efficient and compatible compression formats are the key areas that suppliers need to continue to improve upon.