What’s Driving High-Performance Video?

HD video in the spotlight

As video surveillance and security systems evolve to more intelligent, high- performance solutions, they are being moved from the siloed “security department” to an organization’s network platform.

High-performance video systems provide significant cost savings, improved image quality and situational awareness and enable easy centralization of video surveillance operations and integration with other systems. Product advancements at the edge and intelligent physical security information management (PSIM) type software are the two primary drivers of these new benefits. Features such as push technology, analytics, day/night capability, cloud storage, mobile/remote viewing, power solutions and more are all possible because of product advancements at the edge and central control through intelligent physical security information management type software.

But is either one of these drivers more important than the other? Is one a natural result of the other? Or, are they equally important and, in tandem, necessary for a high-performance video surveillance and security system.


Product technology advances at the edge

A video surveillance camera just being a standalone device that captures video is a somewhat vintage concept. Rather, an IP camera is a combination of a camera and a computer processor that together provide increased functionality with overall better performance across a wide range of applications and environments. Design enhancements in the camera include both on-board intelligence and advances in imaging technology. Some of these technical improvements that enable performance enhancement include:

Wide Dynamic Range—Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) technology allows the camera to capture more details in a scene, whether those details are partially obscured by low light or distorted by strong backlighting such as headlights. WDR does so by exposing the entire scene, both the darkest and brightest parts to ensure identifiable images under such conditions. With WDR, you get clear images when there are both very bright and very dark areas simultaneously in the camera’s field of view similar to how your eyes function.

Compression/Streaming/Storage—These three technologies are grouped together because of the relationship of each to the other. Compression technologies such as MPEG and H.264 have had a major impact on image quality, bandwidth usage and on-board and remote storage. The continuing enhancement of compression technologies helps to minimize the camera’s computational load as well as the amount of data that travels across the network.

Day/Night Imaging—Cameras designed for day/night surveillance applications feature an IR-cut filter which acts as a mechanical shutter. During daytime performance, the IR filter is in place to block all the IR light and conventional color images are created. At night or in situations of extremely low light the IR filter is removed and all available visible and IR light is allowed to reach the sensor, turning the images into black and white mode.

Image Sensors—Two kinds of image sensors are predominant in today’s video surveillance cameras: CCD and CMOS. Both function to conduct light through the lens and convert them into digital signals. With their significantly upgraded processing power, today’s image sensors can analyze images pixel by pixel and produce detailed views of scenes across a broad range of lighting conditions. The enhanced image sensors are also more capable of processing the camera’s on-board analytics such as motion detection, face matching/detection, image stabilizers, auto tracking, tampering and so on.

Intelligent cameras with on-board analytics can make real-time decisions about transmission and can stream video as required to meet quality or bandwidth demands or for viewing on different formats (i.e. control room monitors, smartphones, etc.). The information from the cameras is analyzed and filtered for importance and action needed, such as 4CIF for monitoring and full frame video for event-activated images.

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