The continued mass exodus from analog to high-resolution, high-detail megapixel cameras has prompted the security industry to take a look-literally, at how images are being viewed at the protected premises or the central monitoring station.
As such, high-definition (HD) monitors are a growing trend and challenge for the industry. In the past, customers and integrators dabbled in one or the other, but in 2010, that has changed and now the focus is on both cameras and monitors as a holistic approach.
"The higher the resolution, the better image quality you get," said Barry Lawson, product marketing manager for Viewing Solutions, Pelco, Clovis, Calif. "But a lot of that is overlooked because people focus on cameras. People invested a lot of money into camera solutions, but what gets lost is what to show the image on."
Capability is the key term used when specifying complete solutions. "[Integrators] should look at which type of camera they are using to capture images. If they are using an analog standard camera, then match it to the monitor that may not need high definition on the other side," said Mark Lakefish, vice president of Business Development, ToteVision Inc., Seattle. "If you are using a high-definition camera, then you need a high-definition monitor. The image being captured is only as good as what you are displaying it on."
The failed Times Square bombing in May 2010 is a great example of the importance of compatibility between camera and monitor. "There were great cameras to record the images but you need to show that image in its most accurate, truest form," Lawson said. "Monitors went from very passive to now looking for information: what eye color, color of the car. You want a high-resolution monitor to see the license plate."
Finding the right solution
When investigating complete camera and monitor solutions, there are few things to keep in mind. Keith Fulmer, president of Stevensville, Md.-based Video Mount Products said there are two specific considerations. "One is space requirements. What is it being used for? If you go into Walmart, you see monitors that show you or other areas of the store. But if you're in a central station, you want them to be larger because you will have a lot of picture speed-lots of monitors and bigger images," Fulmer said.
"The second - the application - is going to predicate the type of product. If you have a small business with shipping docks in the back, you won't need a big monitor. But central stations will want larger monitors," Fulmer added.
Geoff Anderson, former marketing and brand manager for JVC Professional Products in Wayne, N.J., agreed that knowing the ultimate goal of the application is key to finding the right product. "Ask a lot of questions up front. Make detailed notes on responses from the customer. If the customer said, 'I will be using the system to look at things after the fact and zoom in,' then that is a particular problem using megapixel technology," Anderson said.
Anderson added that integrators need to partner with a manufacturer that will act as their partner. "He needs to make sure the manufacturer can back them up. When there is a question, problem or design issue, it's hard for integrators to have all that information. They need to rely on manufacturers who can provide additional support either by phone or on-site," Anderson said.
Pelco recently started developing white papers to assist with the latest technology. To view the newest Pelco whitepapers, visit www.pelco.com and click on the Viewing Solutions section under the Products' tab. Other manufacturers have white papers on specific technologies which can provide installation assistance.
It's important to remember that one solution doesn't fit all. "There are budget constraints - make sure the budget matches the requirements. Integrators need to set proper budget expectations, provide solutions that if it is in a critical situation or environment, they have the proper equipment to capture and carry through to the monitor," Lakefish said. "It's all part of the package."
Bruce Tanaka, product manager, Sony Electronics, Security Solutions Group, Park Ridge, N.J., said there are three major factors to finding the right solution. "Length of time that the security operators will be watching the monitor; type of images that they plan to display; and location of use," Tanaka said.