Mobile video has officially become the norm (in demand) in the intrusion detection market. A few years ago, the ability to manage a security system using handheld mobile devices went from novel to standard. The same now holds true for the ability to view live video on gadgets such as smartphones and mobile tablets, not to mention laptop PCs and other connectivity devices.
Today's intrusion detection dealer needs to understand the ins and outs of the latest remote video capabilities to have a fighting chance to close a sale. While the "cool" factor has made this technology appealing to residential and commercial end-users, that's not to say that certain configuration, installation and image quality issues haven't created headaches for dealers trying to keep up with the visual demands of their customers. A combination of those factors had largely kept installations that encompass multiple facilities out of the technology's 'sweet spot.' In fact, many dealers who have taken advantage of remote video solutions will probably tell you the bulk of their sales have come from single-family residential and vacation homeowners.
New advancements in this area are beginning to make the technology more applicable to customers with larger areas to monitor (e.g. real estate brokers or multi-family residence managers who have multiple properties to manage, small-to-mid-size business owners with several stores to operate, etc.). Easier installation, improved user interfaces and the transition from .JPG refresh to higher quality MPEG streaming could very well push the adoption of remote video farther into the mainstream.
The rise of "plug-and-play" pre-configured systems in the market is generating significant savings in time and consequently, money. This is due to the fact that select IP video systems, such as Honeywell's Total Connect Video, are built to work on virtually any network without enlisting the services of an IT expert to assist with the installation. This translates to simpler installation, less labor cost for the customer and less time on site for the dealer.
Another key development in this area-connectivity-no longer changes as the network needs change. This means IT support isn't needed to reconfigure the security system when changes to an organization's network are made.
A better user interface
The user interface is obviously the most-visible selling point of any system. While today's customers are naturally drawn to sleek displays that convey a high-tech feel, they also want simplicity. Newer remote video solutions are providing simpler operation through dashboard-design interfaces that give users the ability to see every location via a single log-in. Previously, if a small retail owner wanted to access video from multiple stores, he/she needed to log out of the system and then log back in with different credentials to change sites. The evolution of single log-ins, however, has made the overall technology more appealing through ease of use.
Users can now simply upload actual images of their facilities as icons to change views. This is another display feature that gives today's systems a more personalized feel for customers.
At the end of the day, image quality is still king. Until recently, .JPG refresh has been the typical method used to "stream" video on mobile devices. While .JPG refresh has certainly filled its purpose, the resulting quality can certainly take some luster off the sleek, high-tech feel manufacturers are striving to achieve with their systems. Newer solutions, however, are starting to incorporate MPEG to provide a true streaming video experience that gives the user a real-time feel of what's happening. Leveraging Wi-Fi wireless networking technology to deliver MPEG streaming video can significantly enhance the end-user's experience.
Carving out a niche
It's important to remember that remote video solutions like Total Connect are not meant to provide functionality typically found in DVRs or full-blown video management systems normally found in large-scale installations. But the ability to accommodate more cameras has started to make the technology more appealing to a non-homeowner audience. Combined with improved installation methods, robust user interfaces and streaming video quality, the latest remote video technology stands a good chance to further establish itself as a valued offering in both residential and commercial installations.
Dean Mason is the senior communications product manager for Honeywell. A Honeywell/ADEMCO veteran of over 20 years, Mason has marketing responsibilities for Honeywell Security & Communications products and services, which include IP/GSM communicators and Total Connect remote services.