Analytics update from ASIS 2009

Despite a poor economy and the cancellation or postponement of many security installations, video analytics remains a steadily growing technology in the industry. In fact, in many cases, there has even been an increase in demand for the technology, as prices continue to drop and functionality continues to increase.

Walking the show floor this week at the 2009 ASIS International Seminar and Exhibition, I had the opportunity to meet with several of the most popular analytics vendors to get their views on the current state of the industry and where they see it going.

According to John Whiteman, ioimage president for the Americas, the industry is beginning to recover from the black eye it received early on from people who over-promised on what the technology could deliver

“For all of us, it comes down to real world deployment," Whiteman said.

During the show, the company formally announced the launch of its new SC1 camera, which is one of the first of the company’s cameras to use a new Davinci processing engine, that Whiteman said has allowed the company to move into onboard storage as well as the deployment of more indoor applications.

“From a price perspective, it’s one of the few cameras priced under one thousand dollars with embedded analytics,” he said.

Whiteman said that analytics continue to have a large presence in such applications as airports, energy plants and other critical infrastructure projects, but added that they are continuing to gain traction in other markets. Whiteman believes the technology is still in the early-to-mid-stages of adoption. As prices drop, however, Whiteman said analytics are becoming more attractive to businesses like schools, prisons and car dealerships

Scott Schnell, president and CEO of VideoIQ, said that his company is also seeing a greater adoption of the technology outside the traditional vertical markets, as his company has already installed cameras in five school districts and four cities this year.

VideoIQ, which until recently had not only provided the hardware itself, but also its own proprietary video management software, announced this week at ASIS that its cameras are now integrated with Milestone VMS software. Schnell said that Milestone is the first VMS platform to support storage at the edge, which VideoIQ cameras provide.

“Embedded security products are kind of like toasters. You buy them, you use them and then you throw them away,” he said. “I think the industry is moving towards platform solutions."

Schnell added that the industry is also trying to shed the notion that it can only function as an alarm generator.

“Historically, analytics was only an alarm generator, but that’s not the only thing (the technology) can do,” he said.

The VideoIQ president said that he believed the future of analytics would be in conducting forensic searches of stored video and that high definition video cameras, which vendors are heavily pushing this year, will only serve to help the industry.

“High def video will separate the men from the boys in the video analytics market,” he said.

Essentially, Schnell said that HD technology will do three things for analytics; first, it will allow for an increased range in accuracy; second, analytics will be able to determine humans at much greater distances; and three, it will eventually reduce bandwidth consumption.

Yet another analytics solution gaining traction in the industry is BRS Labs’ AISight cognitive video analytics. Unlike other analytics solutions that have to have rules made for them in order to detect what the user wants, BRS Labs’ software-based solution can actually learn to differentiate between the suspicious movements of a person and mere environmental factors, such as wind and rain.

The company was recognized with an ASIS Accolades award this year for its innovative approach to analytics.

“We’re able to deliver because we’re constantly learning,” said BRS Labs Chief Technology Officer Eric Eaton.

The company, which has raised nearly $12 million in funding in the last two months alone, was recently awarded a large contract by a hotel in Asia to help protect its guests.

“I think that besides functionality, where real innovation needs to occur are on things that will make analytics cheaper, better and easier-to-use,” said Ed Troha, managing director of global marketing for ObjectVideo.

Troha said that the company is beginning to see more traction in its OV Ready program. ObjectVideo now integrates with over 28 VMS and PSIM (Physical Security Information Management) providers. Troha echoed the sentiments of others in the space who said that there has been an uptick in sales of analytics for non-security applications.

In a recent deployment for a large retailer, the company used ObjectVideo analytics determine why one store’s sales were off from another.

The result of the economic downturn, according to Troha, is that people are looking to get the most of what they’ve already got.

“As a consequence, users are looking for more business intelligence functionality,” he said.