Video analytics on the rebound?

Industry experts discuss how technology is being received by market again at ISC West

Anthony DeStefano, director of Schneider Electric’s integrated security sales buildings business, said that it’s virtually impossible to have people monitor hundreds of video streams and that “analytics help you sort it out.” And although the technology may have been oversold when it first arrived in the market, DeStefano said that analytics have improved since that time.

Fages said that the market may have also turned the corner in terms of customer education as people no longer have unrealistic expectations.   

“It was vaporware,” Dr. Edward Wassal, vice president of global marketing for DVTel, said of video analytics beginnings in the industry. “All of these things are now real.”

Three years ago, Israeli-based DVTel acquired ioimage, which was one of the forerunners of video analytics technology, to bolster its end-to-end offerings in IP video.

Wassal said that he would eventually like to push some form of analytics capability to the edge with the company’s Quasar camera line.

“Analytics, when it first came out had big promise and it failed,” said Shahar Ze’evi, senior product manager at Tyco Security Products.

Ze’evi said he views analytics as more of a “help tool” for users to convert data into information rather than the radical, life-changing innovation that some people made it out to be years ago. He does believe, however, that video analytics can be successful at an application level as long as people specifically define the problem they’re looking to solve with the technology.

“If you are true to what you have and put an application around it, it will work,” he said. For example, Ze’evi explained that using facial recognition in a small, low traffic application would work out much better than trying to use it in wide open, crowded spaces like airports.

An advancement in surveillance technology that people credit with helping bring credibility to analytics once again is improved image quality. Rick Ramsay, senior product manager for Avigilon, which is a leader in the high-definition video space, said that he too believes that analytics are “slowly” coming back to prominence.

Ramsay added that HD and megapixel surveillance products enable users to find things in footage that may have been missing before, which only helps to improve analytic capabilities.

“I think it’s starting to work well again,” Dr. Bob Banerjee, senior director of training and development for NICE System’s security division, said of video analytics.

Rather than focusing on doing a lot of different things with analytics, Banerjee said that people have realized they just need to do one thing very well. For most users, Banerjee said that analytics boils down to the basic premise of alerting them to the presence of a person at a location where they shouldn’t be.

“Solve the problem by focusing on one thing and doing it brilliantly,” he added.

John Frazzini, president of BRS Labs, which offers video analytics software that has the ability to learn what is normal or abnormal activity within a field-of-view versus traditional rules-based analytic algorithms, has a completely different view of the analytics market.

He believes that video analytics as they previously existed are not really on the rebound and what is largely being offered today is a “gimmick” on the part of hardware manufacturers to sell more cameras.

“There is a collaborative, disingenuous approach to this in the industry,” he said.

Unlike his company’s software platform that sells to enterprise-class users for millions of dollars, Frazzini said he doesn’t see people really buying surveillance hardware products for their analytics capabilities. In fact, he compared some vendors to “modern-day snake oil salesmen.”

Though he admitted that BRS Labs caters to a higher-end customer and that there could be a greater demand in other markets for analytics such as people counting, Frazzini said what’s currently being offered is really more of an add-on feature and not a true revenue generator.