What Lies Ahead?

The next 15 years of video surveillance


Higher quality images and light sensitive cameras

Image sensors are evolving at a rapid pace and there is basically no more research and development in standard definition (SD) image sensors. The shift in the market to high-definition resolution and quality is now a fact and a major driver for IP.

For the coming year we will see analog cameras being taken down as end-users opt to move to 720p HDTV and then later to 1080p. There will be niche markets for super-high resolutions, but the industry needs a common standard and HDTV is a good plateau.

The human eye still beats the majority of all video cameras in many aspects, but the turning point where a network camera can see better than the human eye is being passed. Today there are technologies that beat the eye in various aspects—such as super-low light color cameras, improved dynamic range (WDR/HDR) and thermal/IR cameras. But still the human eye is superior in the combination of all these scenarios as well as in identifying objects. Now this is a challenge for all research and development people out there!


Beyond security

The second aspect of future innovation lies in new applications for surveillance cameras. In the same way as it was almost impossible to execute city surveillance with analog in the efficient way we do today with IP, we will see the technology give us new usages in other markets.

In retail we typically have the highest pace of innovation of alternate camera usage as retailers have so many cameras and different needs. If the return on investments can be proven, it scales up quickly. I think we will see a lot of innovation here based on analytics use but also on supply-chain management and merchandising. Imagine you are a brand owner and want to see how your brand is exposed in certain stores. This is possible to do if you have low-cost PTZ network cameras that can be shared remotely by the brand owners as well as by creating a closed retail system with limited partner access through a hosted video model. Applications such as dwell time analysis, shopping unit counting and tracking/handover to map customer behavior will be commonplace among major retailers.

Other areas for increased camera usage are in city surveillance and transportation. Airports are already full of cameras but they keep on multiplying. But in bus and rail transportation we see a lot of opportunities as these verticals are not as penetrated as they could be.


And of course, hosted video

Finally I see video-as-a-service becoming a monster trend. This is something I have been evangelizing for quite a while and today we see many of the pieces falling together. Even many of the largest integrators are pushing hosted video.

After all, we trust the cloud for our emails, documents and even finances. Why shouldn’t the cloud offer us video surveillance as well? This, in combination with local storage in cameras, will begin a revolution in the world of surveillance for smaller sites where analog still dominates. This will be the main driver towards reaching 100 percent penetration for IP cameras in the world, which could be as early as 2020 based on today’s pace for new installs.

Hosted video will bring us many new usages of video that we don’t know right now. Alarm verification with video, construction site monitoring and even city surveillance systems will all benefit from hosted solutions. And maybe even our homes will be getting more cameras in the coming 15 years.


Martin Gren is the co-founder, Axis Communications AB and the inventor of the world’s first network camera, pictured on page 26 with Gren, which celebrated 15 years in 2011.