New technology synopsizes video surveillance

Israel, Feb. 4, 2009 -- It's a classic problem with video surveillance: too many cameras to watch, and sometimes too many hours of video surveillance to find the needle-in-the-haystack incident. However, at least one company is working to change that.

BriefCam, a start-up tech firm out of Israel, has announced its BriefCam CCTV system. The system, which can be added to many video surveillance systems, is basically a computer that plugs into both analog and IP video systems and then converts hours of normal frame rate video into something that looks like a VCR or DVR in fast-forward mode. According to a statement from BriefCam, it plays the video synopsis up to 1,000 times faster than what's currently achievable in playback. The system allows the viewer, operator or investigator accessing the footage to instantly click and view video of events that can be seen while skimming through the footage.

In a demo clip available on the company's website (, a day's worth of video from an airport camera is condensed down to about 20 seconds. What you can't see on the video, explains BriefCam chairman and co-founder Gideon Ben-Zvi, is that the video is tagged by events and allows the user to instantly access clips by simply clicking with the mouse.

Right now, the technology is delivered solely as a standalone unit, but Ben-Zvi told that he can see a time in the future when this technology could be licensed to OEMs and made available directly inside DVRs and NVRs. He said he can also see a time when such a system would link into video analytics system providers to provide the benefit of quick video synopses along with video-based alerts. But for now, the company is working on partnerships so that the current system can easily tie in with some of the big-name surveillance storage and recorder systems.

"Current CCTV technology makes the review of video surveillance footage a costly and time intensive task, often requiring a large team to view and analyze captured video," said Ben-Zvi. "BriefCam's technology is key to giving police departments, airport security personnel, store managers, homeowners and practically anyone using video surveillance the ability to react faster and more efficiently. In conjunction with existing surveillance solutions, video synopsis will take the CCTV industry to new levels of effectiveness."

The system isn't simply being designed for high-end applications. Ben-Zvi said he sees a high number of applications for smaller retailers and for homeowners who use video surveillance. It's all the more important for those persons, who obviously don't have a dedicated surveillance and security staff, to be able to find video quickly.

While the system is only currently being sold in Israel and other nations where BriefCam has a presence, Ben-Zvi said he expects to see the technology enter the North American/U.S. market in March or April.

Ben-Zvi said he has been challenged by the current worldwide economic situation, but the company has received investment funding and already has pilot projects which it hopes to announce soon. The development of the BriefCam synopsis technology was done by Professor Shmuel Peleg at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and coordinated through the Yissum Research Development Company of the university. Along with Peleg, the team features Ben-Zvi as well as Yaron Caspi, Ph.D., a computer vision specialist who serves as BriefCam's vice president of research and development.