Unique camera technology on display at ASIS 2012

Some companies offering innovations above and beyond just higher image quality

When people talk about the latest and greatest innovations in surveillance cameras, the conversation tends to center around developments in image resolution and the continued migration from analog to IP. While there is certainly no shortage of cameras at this year’s ASIS show in Philadelphia with high image quality, there are some vendors showcasing developments in other areas of camera technology.

One segment of the market that has seen some advancement in recent years is the use of lenses to create a 360-degree field of view in a single camera. German-based video surveillance solutions maker Mobotix has been on the leading edge of this technology with the release of its Q24 hemispheric camera several years ago. At this year’s ASIS show, the company is featuring its S14 double hemispheric camera, which according to Steve Gorski, the company’s general manager for the Americas, provides users with a tremendous amount of flexibility.

"There’s really nothing like it in the marketplace today. Basically, you’ve got a processing box and two Q24 hemispheric cameras attached by a three-foot cable," Gorski explained. "You could have, for example, if you had two rooms next to one another you could put the processor box in the middle, extend one cable to one room with that camera and extend the other cable to the other room with the other camera and essentially cover two rooms with one camera."

Gorski believes the S14 is ideal for users looking for a camera that’s inconspicuous and would be a natural fit in retail and transportation environments. The company will soon be coming out with a special housing for the S14 that’s designed specifically for buses and trains.

In addition to the S14, Gorski said that Mobotix will also be highlighting some of the analytic capabilities that they’ve incorporated into the aforementioned Q24, which include a people counting application and heat mapping.

Gorski said he believes that some companies have fallen into the trap of the keeping up with the consumer marketplace in terms of creating cameras with more megapixels and have actually forgotten about meeting the real needs of the market.

"I think at the end of the day, the reality is yes, somebody may need a 15-megapixel camera for a certain application, but I don’t think everybody does,” he said. "Resolution is very important. There is no question about that. I think that’s the biggest argument for IP over analog. I think where people have fallen into the trap is applying some of the trends they’re seeing in the consumer electronics side and saying 'now I have to have a 10-megapixel, 15-megapixel or 20-megapixel camera.' And I think we’ve gotten away from asking the question; do you really need that?"

Gorski feels that future innovations in the industry will continue to focus on higher image resolution, but also more intelligent devices with greater analytic functionality, as well as move towards storage at the edge.

"I think it’s just going to be more and more intelligent products. I think that’s one of the benefits of IP certainly over analog," he said. "Like a lot of things in the electronics industry, things will probably get smaller, faster and less expensive."

Another important, but often overlooked component of camera technology is how they are powered. Innovation in Power-over-Ethernet solutions have allowed end-users to cut down on their installation and infrastructure costs, but one power option that has remain relatively untapped is solar energy.

MicroPower Technologies, a venture capital-backed startup company out of San Diego, is looking to change that with its Helios camera system. According to John Graham, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, the Helios solution is a standalone camera system for perimeter security applications that removes the need for having any wires or cords.

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