The Major Milestones of IP Video

Where we've been; Where we're headed

Increased Business Functionality Milestones

Unlike the steady innovation the industry enjoyed with image quality, the development of video intelligence for business functionality took a rockier road. Initially, we saw a nice adoption curve with the introduction of motion detection and I/O ports, but a combination of post-9/11 hype, reactionary government funding programs and before-its-time expectations caused a few false starts with intelligent video.

With millions of IP cameras in the world today, there is a real business need for intelligent video. Fortunately, we appear to be back on track and have the three ingredients for effective analytics: exceptional image quality, ever growing processing power and advanced algorithms. It’s likely that analytics will be a serious market driver for years to come.

  • 1998 – The first input/output (I/O) ports appear on a network camera, including the RS-232 serial standard. By enabling end-customers to integrate door contacts, alarms and even Point of Sale (POS) data with video, the novel idea of using network video for business operations was created.

  • 2000 – IP video intelligence is born with the introduction of Video Motion Detection (VMD) at the edge.

  • 2005 – Four years after 9/11, government reactionary funding for improved security and surveillance lead to the emergence of many intelligent software companies from out of their basements and garages. Big intelligent video hype begins, with new players in the surveillance market promising facial recognition and bag-left-behind analytics well before the technology was ready.

  • 2006 – A few bits of good news emerge from the brief analytic funding utopia with the introduction of practical video intelligence applications like People Counting and Camera Tampering, which is an extremely powerful feature of many IP cameras, albeit rarely used.

  • 2007 – Intelligent video hype continues as companies hanging around from the ’05 surge continue their work to convince customers that they can find that bag. Their biggest issue, perhaps, was that the mission critical analytic applications they promised required a near 100 percent accuracy rate. Even one false alarm or missed positive could prove disastrous.

  • 2009 –The recession is in full swing and the lack of venture funding effectively kills the intelligent video hype. In spite of the overall analytics hype, the extremely functional Audio Detection analytic makes its debut.

  • 2009/2010 – Improving in-camera chipsets provide enough processing power for the creation of analytic platforms at the edge for the software development and implementation of in-camera analytics. IP video “apps” now have a future.

  • 2011 – By following Moore’s Law, which is a natural IT innovation that enables twice the processing power every 18 months, chips launched in 2011 have the capacity to run nearly 95 percent of analytics at the edge.

  • 2012 – With the current limitations of professional-grade lenses and the fact that image quality has reached a point where few users require more resolution than what’s available today, the race for megapixels is over. The race for business and operational intelligence begins. With the ability to download and run applications directly at the edge, the IP camera is now the iPhone of the surveillance world


TCO, Scalability and System Size Milestones

One of the core benefits of any IP-based technology is scalability. The ability to add either 100 or just one camera to an existing system has always been a key total cost of ownership (TCO) benefit when comparing IP video with analog CCTV. In the early days of IP video, this scalability benefit proved extremely valuable for large systems.

However, as IP video manufacturers went Elephant Hunting for the biggest projects, there was less of a focus on developing technology for smaller systems, specifically 16-cameras-and-less, where analog had a strong foothold. This small system market is the final frontier for IP video.