Axis works to make IP cams easier to install

Oct. 20, 2009 -- At the Axis Channel Convergence Conference last week in Austin, Texas, channel and vendor partners enjoyed a look at the direction IP video is heading. Axis, considered one of the top companies producing IP networked video surveillance products (and one of the top camera vendors globally in terms of marketshare), brought together a number of its top channel partners (systems integrators) for three days of training, product roadmap discussions, and industry analysis.

One of the top focuses at the event was how Axis products are developing to make projects easier for installing partners. The company had already showcased such solutions as a snap-in, can-style enclosure for its M3011 dome camera, but that's only part of the story for Axis' product line. I had a chance to hear from Axis Director of Sales Larry Newman as he showcased improvements that will affect your lives as installers and end-users.

Without going into model specifics, here's what we're seeing from Axis that are improvements designed for easing the task of deploying cameras:

  1. Modular units: Design is separating enclosures from camera heads and even mounting units, which allows for step-by-step installation
  2. The screws: In one case, Axis recognized the challenges that side-mount screws can have for installers and switched the position on these screws to make them vertical, and easier to reach with an electric screwdriver/drill from below.
  3. Covering the circuit boards: A simple addition of a plastic cover ensures mounting screws can't be mistakenly drilled into the vital circuit board.
  4. Threads: They've adopted the National Pipe Thread Standard for pole-mount type cameras which means you're likely to get a fast install when you're 20 feet up on a cherry picker.
  5. A new video monitor: Their hot new product isn't even a camera, but a handheld video monitor (the T8412) for setting focus and other camera functions.
  6. Sun covers: Sounds simple, but it's a welcome addition to control glare issues for domes.
  7. PTZ start-up smarts: The engineers have implemented a start-up protocol for their forthcoming higher-end outdoor PTZs that checks humidity/condensation inside the enclosure before starting up to ensure you don't short out the camera. Additionally, the camera start-up checks temperature to make sure it is warm enough to start moving PTZ parts, and if it's not, it turns on the heater to warm things up to a safe level for starting the PTZ camera.
  8. Pixel counting: A part of the software running for the cameras allows installers to select any area of the image and do a real pixel count, which lets you know if you're getting enough pixels on target for identification purposes of someone or something in a scene.
  9. Remote focus: Point the new cameras at the area of interest, then let the software do the actual focusing, instead of trying to do micro-adjustments while on your 16-foot ladder.
  10. PoE encoders: New encoders allow PoE pass-through for powering of devices.
  11. P-iris: This is a new iris technology developed by Axis and the Kowa company that allows for micro adjustments to maintain focus. It's not an Axis-exclusive technology, and we may see this appear in other camera companies products.
  12. Hot swap on encoder racks: We've been seeing hot swappable drives on NVRs and DVRs and on network storage, but this takes that concept to their dense encoder racks, meaning you don't have to shut down the entire encoder rack to swap a single encoder blade.

Overall, the message from Axis in this regard is that they have been focusing on imaging and camera features, and now they're really getting to a point where they've had enough time in the field to make the small improvements (like something as simple as moving screw slots) that take their product line to the next level.

That said, there were also some pretty hot new products being showcased at the conference, but most of these aren't out yet, so stay tuned as the company releases those.