CES 2013: An Infrastructure and Visual Revolution

In 2009, my colleague Fredrik Nilsson wrote an article about new technologies unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas and how they could drive potentially affect the surveillance industry. HDTV, H.264 compression, wireless bandwidth, and more solid state storage packages were the trends he identified. Four years later, I’d say he was on to something.

I attended CES this year and thought it would be a great time to revitalize this concept with a slightly longer list. Thus, here are the top ten tech trends as seen at CES with an interactive look at how our security industry might one day benefit.


10: Crowdsourced Intelligence and Technology Funding

In his book Ninja Innovation, Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), discusses how the most innovative companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft achieve victory. Thinking like a ninja — through discipline, a mission-oriented strategy, adaptability, decisiveness and a will for victory — allows many solution providers to get funded through online platforms. This concept of “crowdsourcing” has helped build an army of ninja innovators. One 2012 crowdsourcing project enhanced a bus stop in Georgia.

Did you know that there are several modular, security-equipped waiting stations available to deploy in the security industry? Crowdfunding represents a viable way to rapidly deploy surveillance-ready modules to enhance child safety, for instance, at financially challenged schools in high risk neighborhoods.

Additionally, crowdsourcing could help create and sustain video analytic apps for tasks like monitoring occupancy and capturing vehicle license plates. Here, the IP camera becomes a ubiquitous sensor for future software development.


9: Display Standards Move Forward with UltraHD

HDTV is today’s visual standard; however, UltraHD is further down the road, and made a huge splash at CES 2013. This illustrates how standards-based image quality unites and delivers, and could one day drive surveillance toward UltraHD once storage, display and bandwidth technology are ready.


8: Robotics for Everyone

A quick story I heard in one booth: In Afghanistan, a counter insurgence team readies to neutralize a suspect facility. The team surrounds the facility and, instead of storming the building, hurl armored robots into exposed pipes and windows. These remotely controlled, armored mini tank-like robots, complete with surveillance and multi-surface traction, enable soldiers to locate threats, hostages and escape routes.

Back at home, floor-cleaning robots avoid edges, furniture and entrances with very similar mapping technology found in their armored cousins.

The next step is robots for healthcare, education and, of course, security. These larger, industrial, purpose-built robots are being introduced and represent significant ways of lowering the cost of operations, security patrol and incident response. One such healthcare robot enables the attending physician to be virtually “face to face” with patient and telemetry. The nurse “force” is essentially multiplied for routine functions, enabling staff to focus on more complex, time-critical decisions.

In the same way, robotics for security will not only multiply that force, but extend surveillance — and in a much safer way for our law enforcement partners.


7: Optics, Lenses and Better Pixels

You are no longer considered a geek if you carry around a larger lens on a small camera. Consumers are enjoying a lower price point of digital imaging devices that employ specially matched lenses to HDTV-ready cameras, creating a world of professional-grade photography enthusiasts.

HDTV-ready optics on IP cameras really matured in the security industry in 2011 and 2012. Lenses have been lagging behind the Moore’s Law-driven processing and sensor capabilities of IP cameras, but if CES is an indicator, they are catching up.


6: Digital Health Accelerates

The booming health and fitness technology industry expanded the collocated Digital Health Summit even further at CES 2013. The focus on population segments having specific monitoring needs, like children and the elderly, has expanded exponentially.

Insurance companies exhibiting at Digital Health have an interest in decreasing the costs associated with elderly care and showed off technologies with a full suite of sensors, including video surveillance, designed to keep people safe.

Infant monitoring moved forward with many products, combining motion and audible sensing with video surveillance in the cloud, enabling parents to quickly check on their child.

In the security industry, central station automation systems are ready to link this video surveillance usage with a variety of sensors, which can be shown right on your mobile device.


5: Location, Location, Location

In 2012, more location-based services brought us together with services we need but with an undesirable effect: mobile device power drain.

2013 brings a new suite of mapping tools for a wide range of platforms, designed to reduce network traffic and use more efficient resources of newly documented roads, trails and services.

In security, this technology could be used to track high-value or critical assets, or provide a better customer experience in the retail and services world. Additionally, IP cameras that provide mapping data could increase location response time by pinpointing exactly where an incident is taking place.  

And, what better location to store this mobile intelligence than in the cloud (more later)!


4: Power and Interoperability Everywhere

Whether it is at home, in the car or on the job, the Internet of Things (IoT) is starting to work together. The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) enables digital products to interoperate and share digital content in each connected home.

At CES 2013, new ways of interacting with technology were introduced through voice, touch, eye movements and sensors of all kinds. Don’t want to use a trackpad? Eye tracking technology was demonstrated. Voice-activated products were dominant in automotive and television technology.

In our world, video surveillance inputs to a monitor at an emergency operations center could be controlled through a connected headset without lifting a finger. Similarly, virtual reality headsets used for video games could have great applications for the central station security operator to manage an event list while keeping a watchful eye on employees leaving work in a high-risk environment.

As these technologies make their way into the security world, it will become increasingly important to verify device interoperability, as is the goal of ONVIF. With manufacturer ecosystems and partner programs gaining strength, the likelihood of digital content interoperability standards acceptance is high.

Saving power is also driving the “connected home,” where devices offer energy saver settings. As an industry, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) enlisted the cabling skills of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) to deliver even higher Power over Ethernet (PoE) levels to cameras and other devices that the surveillance industry has widely adopted.


3: Mobility and Apps Everywhere

Tablets and mobile devices at CES 2013 showcased the powerful Intel Core i7 processor, putting performance in the “lid” of a detachable keyboard. The Windows 8 tablet becomes another useful and powerful alternative to IoS, enabling even more surveillance applications to be used by security officers on patrol.

On the training side, a move to a breed of “learning” tablets will enable security technicians to more easily install IP video and access control systems in a step-by-step manner. Additionally, security officers can be trained quickly for how to respond to alarms, input dispositions and communicate with management and authorities.


2: Infrastructure Leads with its Own Ecosystem, too

Leading home and business infrastructure providers made a strong leap at CES 2013 by creating their own partner pavilions — much like security device manufacturers do today. Everything from wireless accessories to companion software gave consumer and small business professionals a “one stop shopping” experience.

This is logical as infrastructure/service providers are focused on providing usable spectrum and storage to customers on a recurring revenue basis. With partner devices and solutions permitting intelligent use of the infrastructure’s resources, the creation of an ecosystem becomes the most powerful way to scale a growing service-based business.


1. Cloud Computing for the Masses

If last year’s CES showed a strong cloud adoption trend, this year established cloud computing as a standard. From services to lifestyle, the CE industry used cloud-delivered content, apps and intelligence just as the security industry continues adoption of hosted video and access control.

Need to manage your passwords? One unique USB-connected stick connects to a cloud-based password management program using fingerprint-activation. Only you can access your data, and if someone else makes multiple unsuccessful attempts, the content is automatically deleted. This could have great potential for the sharing of evidentiary video.

The cloud also became a way to brainstorm an issue at CES. Through a sophisticated keyword search engine, networked users either typed or voiced suggestions and ideas, and the cloud-based solution delivered back content matching the discussion. The effect is like having an expert on your team continually conducting searches based on previous research with results appearing and evolving in real time for all team members to see. The applications for security and intelligence for this tool are vast.

However, the way the cloud is used in consumer and small business devices and apps is the most significant. The Input-Analysis-Output cycle became a reality with many products and services at CES 2013. Data was fed into a cloud-based app, or “accumulator,” then processed and analyzed content was delivered to users via devices like smart phones, tablets, vehicles and appliances. The apps’ input could be sensor inputs of various types, processed in the cloud.

These inputs can track facial expressions for market research or be used to better serve autistic patients by interpreting their gestures. In the business of digital health, consumers can access and build a secure medical database about themselves to minimalize the constant questions posed to the often-unavailable caregiver.

There was even a fork that vibrated if you ate too fast!

In all cases, data is analyzed in the cloud, and the app then reports in detail — a wonderful way of dealing with the “big data” we have created in a security system. We’ve been enjoying the benefits of video content analysis (VCA) in the security industry, but now a new, disruptive model emerges that builds on this very powerful way of dealing with too much information in a short period of time: Cloud Processing.


Steve Surfaro is Strategic Channel Manager for Axis Communications. To request more information about Axis, please visit www.securityinfowatch.com/10212966.