HDcctv Alliance: High-def isn't just for IP

Industry alliance launches, promotes high-definition video over coax and DVRs

In the world of video surveillance, the words “high definition” have typically been associated with IP cameras, where manufacturers used megapixel camera sensors to offer the same level of clarity that new consumer HD digital televisions offered. Now, a group of technologists and vendors wants to change that perception that you have to go IP to get HD, and they’re doing so by launching an initiative called “HDcctv”.

HDcctv, promoted by a group called the HDcctv Alliance, wants to show that analog camera technology isn’t being left behind and that dealers and end users don’t have to swap their surveillance networks from coax to Cat-5e or Cat-6 just to get better images of bad guys in action.

The group announced their initiative this morning, and HDcctv Alliance Chairman Todd Rockoff, Ph.D. (formerly with surveillance products manufacturer EverFocus as vice president of global sales) called it “a zero-training, plug-and-play resolution upgrade for the installed base."

What Rockoff and the alliance are going up against, he says, is a perception in the industry that in order to make the switch to high definition video surveillance, you have to know networking, you have to use NVRs and IP video cameras, and you have to change out all the equipment. With the technology push from his group, says Rockoff, "moving from current resolutions to 720p or 1080p is as easy as switching cameras and then the DVRs."

In terms of the technology behind the HDcctv Alliance's efforts, it does mean swapping out cameras and the recorders (and also your matrixes and monitors to get the full effect). The HD cameras that the alliance wants to promote would use the same front-end as any HD IP camera, meaning the same types of lenses and initial processors and image capture chips. Then comes the difference; the HDcctv camera passes the uncompressed video in a format known at BT.1120 to a digital serializer. On the receiving end, after the data is sent over standard coaxial cables, a serial digital interface (SDI) with a BT.1120 codec in a DVR receives that signal and then converts it for storage on the DVR's hard drive. One of the real advances that has allowed for high-definition CCTV, he says, has been the development of HD capture cards for digital video recorders.

The video, explains Rockoff, could be recorded at high definition, but it's also likely, he says, that users would want to watch the high-def video for their CCTV monitoring stations when they have a live incident. Certainly, he says, there are clear advantages to being able to see a surveillance image in high resolution for monitoring purposes.

In terms of costs, Rockoff's group proposes that the costs of high-definition cameras and HD DVRs would be roughly the same as IP cameras and NVRs, since the technical cores of these devices aren't altogether different.

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