Oncam Global takes full control of Grandeye

A little more than three years after taking joint ownership of Grandeye, a UK-based provider of 360-degree camera technology, Oncam Global on Monday announced that it has now taken full ownership of the company.

According to a statement Grandeye will be fully integrated into Oncam Global as its technology and engineering arm and to "reflect the importance of the acquisition," the newly combined company will now be known as Oncam Grandeye.

The two companies have been intertwined for many years, and Oncam already owned 49% of Grandeye. Grandeye developed its 360-degree technology which allowed dewarping of the images. The company also produced early analog camera versions that used the dewarping technology. Oncam licensed the Grandeye technology for 360-degree imaging and applied it to IP cameras. Bringing the two companies together is a move that completes the progression of that business relationship, said Oncam CEO Graham Wallis.

"It means we now wholly own the technology that we have been using all the time, so we can direct its development path," Wallis said in an interview with SecurityInfoWatch.com. "We are investing very heavily into the development of the cameras. The dewarping technology won’t change; it’s well established."

Oncam said that it acquired the remaining 51 percent of shares of Grandeye from Creative Technology to take full control of the company and to respond to an increase in demand for its technology. The purchase price for the 51 percent was not disclosed.

The Grandeye technology couples a small fisheye lens from Sunex with the company's camera. Inside the Grandeye camera is a high-power imaging processing chip from ZiiLABS that runs analytics and panoramic imaging functions. The chips are said to allow for third party analytics to be written and added into the camera. The cameras, which use sensors with up to five megapixels, give users a variety of monitoring applications. One common ability would be to maintain 360-degree situational awareness while simultaneously doing a virtual PTZ function by zooming and/or cropping in on a select area of the scene to investigate an incident or track an intruder. The software also allows the single camera image to be split into multiple images for something like a 4-camera monitoring matrix.

"Grandeye has been a pioneer in the development and use of 360 degree imaging across a range of security solutions and to this day remains synonymous with 360-degree technology," Ahmed Jawad, executive chairman of Oncam Global said in a statement. "With the global video surveillance market predicted to grow by more than 12 percent in 2012, it is vital that we are positioned effectively to continue our leadership in 360-degree technology and exploit new growth opportunities across the market place."

“The vast majority of the market is still using narrow-angle views [for security cameras]," explained Wallis. "Where 360 comes in is when you when you want to see the whole scene. It’s about being able to analyze that recorded video at a later time, to perform a a retrospective analysis.” The technology also challenges pan-tilt-zoom cameras, he said. “PTZ is only as good as the direction it is looking.”

Wallis added that the camera technology continues to push forward.

"Prices [for 360-degree cameras] are decreasing as they are on all of the cameras," Wallis said. "At the same time, we are increasing sensor sizes, now offering up to 5 megapixels. We are introducing new family of cameras (in addition to existing line). The first of those products are now on the market, and they will continue to be released in various forms until the end of August."

In a statement released to the media, Jawad said that the company will continue to heavily invest in research and development efforts.

"Grandeye will benefit from increased investment in R&D and it will also be our objective to attract the best people into our business, ensuring that we maintain our market position and continue to lead technology development and innovation in the 360-degree technology market," he said.

Wallis said the companies have no plans to relocate offices, especially since key locations for Grandeye and Oncam are located near each other in the UK.

Joel Griffin contributed to this report.