Eye on Video: Examining intelligent video

A look at the realities and myths of intelligent video solutions

[Editor's note: Popular SIW columnist Fredrik Nilsson gets back to his roots with a series titled "Eye on Video". In this series over the next year, he'll be addressing such topics as compression technologies, megapixel video, TCP/IP, wireless communications and other topics affecting surveillance systems users and installers who are making the transition to today's digital, networked, IP-based surveillance systems. His column will appear monthly on SecurityInfoWatch.com and in select issues of Security Technology & Design.]

Dec. 2007 -- Over the last year, we wrote a series of articles that offered readers in-depth insights into various video surveillance installations that featured specific benefits of networked video, be it wireless installations, scalable solutions or bandwidth capabilities. In addition, we showcased how network video was used in retail, gaming, and government settings. The network video market has been going through a rapid growth phase over the last few years, and to some extent the growth has been driven by new innovative technologies such as Power over Ethernet, progressive scan, and non-mechanical pan/tilt/zoom. So what other technologies are in the pipeline that might further fuel the growth of the IP market? In 2008, I am going to focus on these future technologies that will drive the network video market; technologies such as megapixel resolution, intelligent video, compression technologies, and new networking technologies.

This market will not continue to expand by looking backwards; all of the companies that manufacture, install and service networked video systems have to continually look forward and become leaders by anticipating customer needs, by taking risks, and by delivering products with new technology that substantially improves the customer's experience. In order to maintain a successful path, you need to continue to anticipate customer needs a few years from now and deploy new technologies. One of those new technologies is intelligent video.

Intelligent video, also referred to as video analytics, is the process of analyzing video data with the goal of transforming it into useful information. One of the greatest value propositions that intelligent video offers is the ability to alert authorities in real time if something suspicious happens. The capabilities and benefits are numerous, but being realistic and setting the right expectations is key. The challenge is that with any new technology, there is always confusing misinformation that leads to incorrect perceptions - the market "myths" so to speak. What are the myths of intelligent video? Let's have a look at the most common, and try to demystify and clarify them.

Myth 1: Intelligent video is more intelligent than you

Intelligent video is based on algorithms put together by engineers and configurations made by the end user, all of which make the video surveillance system do exactly what the engineers and end users tell them to do. In other words, you set the parameters that tell the camera what to monitor and what to ignore. That being said, however, a network camera with video intelligence that is correctly adjusted will be a lot more accurate than humans when looking for certain behaviors. Cameras never take coffee breaks nor do they take naps. Like a computer, intelligent network cameras are very good at doing one specific task over and over again without getting bored just. But remember, it is not smarter than you.

Myth 2: Intelligent video is the wave of the future

The first intelligent video functionality in a network camera, video motion detection, was launched more than five years ago. People counting, license plate recognition, and camera tampering alarm just started being deployed on a wide scale in 2007. Other functionalities such as "slip and fall" detection are still a few years away, while 3D facial recognition might be even further in the future. So depending on what functionality you look at, intelligent video might be the wave of the past, present, or the future.

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