Yeah, the product is cool, but will it sell?

April 4, 2008

When I heard Wakefield, Mass.-based NoblePeak Vision's TriWave camera won the SIA New Product Showcase "Best In Show," my thoughts turned to when I was first introduced to their technology last September at ASIS. At the time, I had been impressed enough by the demo I had seen to write: Another company focused on high-tech surveillance engineering, NoblePeak, was showing off a futuristic technology they plan to start offering dealers next year. NoblePeak's "Germanium" technology, capable of sensing the spectrum from near-infrared to short-wave infrared, is able to display nighttime images by using "Night Glow." Phil Davies, vice president of marketing for NoblePeak, explained that hydroxyl ions in the earth's atmosphere absorb sun rays during the day, and at night they "glow"-the human eye can't detect this "glow," but NoblePeak's Germanium technology can. As such, this camera has a uniform light source which enables it to deliver quality images during the night.

Today, more than six months later, I stopped by NoblePeak's booth during Day 2 of ISC West to congratulate them on their newest award. Clifford King, Ph. D., one of the founders of NoblePeak and a developer of the technology, showed me that they're now able to demo the camera at VGA resolution (which is a big improvement over the tiny screenshots they were using at ASIS). He also was able to report that NoblePeak is finally starting to sell product.

I also had a chance today to stop by the booth of another SIA New Product Showcase winner, VideoIQ, which won in the category of video analytics with its iCVR . The iCVR is a camera with built-in storage and video analytics, allowing the camera to efficiently manage network bandwidth by only transmitting video over the network when there is an alarm. For instance, an iCVR pointed at a parking lot will record video locally to the camera for hours at a time, but as soon as a car pulls into the lot seven seconds of video will be transferred over the network (the 2 seconds before the "incident" and 5 seconds after).

Scott Schnell, president and CEO, VideoIQ, also pointed out some other features of the iCVR solution. One was that the cameras can have an audio output, allowing a guard at a command center to call out a warning or directions to a suspicious person. An example Schnell used was a car dealership where somebody is walking around the lot after hours. Once the guard has been alerted to a suspicous person, he or she can take a proactive approach and actually call out to the person something like, "The car dealership is now closed. If you would like to see a car, please come back during normal business hours tomorrow."

Another feature that Schnell demoed for me was VideoIQ's ability to search by objects. For instance, you can search for "people" or "cars" or "trucks" as opposed to just things that move.

Many new products at the show seem "cool," especially the SIA New Product Showcase winners. However, as with most new products, it's going to take a while to see how they really do on the market place. Will they hold up in real world environments, and if so, exactly how profitable will they be? Time will tell.