Tom Carnevale displays his new 14 megapixel camera at ISC West 2012.
Photo credit: (G. Kohl/SecurityInfoWatch.com)
We see a lot of great technologies on the show floor, and in an effort to process all of the great things we see, I've rounded up a few in this report on video surveillance technologies. Look for even more companies to be included in my second report on this subject from ISC West 2012 (see all ISC West 2012 coverage).
Over at the IQinVision booth, I was able to get a look at their "7 Series" cameras, the IQ76 series. This is a 5-megapixel camera line with what you might call "all the bells and whistles." There are analog outputs so you can do at-the-camera focusing, field-of-view checks and adjustments, and the cameras also have direct-to-storage capabilities on the cameras, which is an advancement from IQinVision that allows the camera to be the server, allowing it to "push" the video to storage of any type, like a NAS, or even the camera's onboard storage. It can run a VMS on the camera (Exacq is an early partner from the VMS world), and it's a move that makes the camera the NVR itself – something that could be a real video industry game-changer. IQinVision's Wendi Burke added that the onboard storage is steadily gaining popularity for environments that might want a lower frame rate and which are solely using the cameras for forensic purposes.
I reported on Pelco in a separate article. The key note here is that they are doing great business with their thermal cameras, and are pushing forward with the SureVision line of more affordable cameras as well. The company has consolidated its VMS line into three versions (a great move to simplify its offerings), from basic (DS) to mid-size (DX) to enterprise (Endura).
Sony and Intersil are two of the organizations behind the new Hybrid Video Security Alliance. This is a member-supported organization designed to promote hybrid video as the new standard. Intersil announced this organization. What's interesting is that this falls in line with what Sony is doing in terms of offering both IP and analog outputs on its cameras such that IP video can either be connected via Ethernet, or it can be streamed over existing coaxial cable. Hybrid video is a migration strategy and Sony is banking on the fact that many facilities don't have the funds to rip and replace their entire cabling infrastructure. Instead, they can replace the camera unit with a hybrid device that supports analog and IP, and then later can choose to change out cabling infrastructure. What it means is that buyers choosing the Sony solution can get a camera that simultaneously streams 1080p HD over same medium of analog. This method of transmission and equipment replacement is a model that makes sense for a lot of businesses that want to upgrade their surveillance systems in steps, and it's the Intersil chip inside Sony's cameras which allows this. There's a temporary exclusivity arrangement between Sony and Intersil for having the chip in a camera, but when that exclusivity ends (within the year, from what we were told), I would expect to see this hybrid model that Sony created really take off across the market and validate their technology. We also mentioned news of the fact that this transmission model is already being offered by Altronix (see related article).
Mark Collett of Sony also commented on the continued need for standards – and not just transmission standards like what PSIA and ONVIF are doing. "Relevant to the emerging marketplace, there are still no standards in place today," said Collet. "One of the reasons I accepted the seat on SIA's board is to drive standards. We are very frustrated that that no standards exist today. For example, there still are no standards on minimum illumination, and nor are there standards on wide dynamic range. When you look at spec sheets from manufacturers, products look the same, but they perform very differently." Specifiers, end-users and integrators still have to verify many cameras are even close to what is claimed on the spec sheet because of this lack of standards. Mark's point is that there needs to be real standards for testing feature claims like illumination and WDR.
Mark also questioned the rush to higher and higher megapixel counts beyond HD, noting that there aren't any monitors/displays on the market today that show more than HD/1080p. And even then, most users watch multiple cameras at once, so maybe you're only applying a quarter of that display resolution to a single camera. His point is well taken. Extremely high megapixel cameras really can only show the value of those extra pixels if you're zooming in on the video, but for regular monitoring purposes, those extra pixels aren't necessary.
Talk to Tom Carnevale at Sentry360 and the message is that the company is a lot more than 360 imaging. Yes, they are known for that technology and do it well (with resolutions from 1.3 to 10 megapixels in their 360 line), but what the company was highlighting at ISC West was a compact 14-megapixel box camera. I was able to swing by and take a gander at this unit. To Sony's point, sure this camera is producing video beyond the monitoring capacity of today's displays, but if you're wanting real forensic details in a wide area where you can focus in after the fact on a subject, these solutions really perform. Carnevale explains why they now offer a fixed camera: "Every application needs situational awareness, but they also need forensic detail. The 360 technology gives you that situational awareness, but a 360-degree camera combined with fixed video is what we think is an even better approach."
Notable on the 360 side of their business is that they have received great endorsement with many of the more popular VMS platforms now supporting the technology.
The Victor video management system isn't brand new by any means having launched last year, but this NVR/hardware-offered VMS continues to improve. One of the slick features is really about evidence exportation. You can export video from multiple camera feeds at once, so if you wanted all the video for 20 minutes, for example, from eight cameras that were near an incident, you can produce that instantaneously in a group. There's also a nice improvement in exporting still images out of video, allowing you to grab it straight from the VMS and export or email it any way you want – or even to take it into an external program if you want to do image enhancements.
American Dynamics is also rolling out more and more cameras in the Illustra line, with 400-series and 600-series cameras depending on your image resolution needs. The one thing I'm hearing about the 400 series is that the low-light image quality is quite good, and then the 600-series (a higher end camera line) takes that even further with improved IP resolutions that offer HD outputs of 720p and 1080p. If you haven't seen Illustra in sometime, the thing to take away is that they really have a full line, from high-speed PTZs to box camera, indoor and outdoor mini-domes, and infrared illumination capabilities – available in standard and HD resolutions.
Look for more video surveillance technology reports in our next update...