What’s trending on the video surveillance horizon: Part 2

Jan. 6, 2016
Industry experts share their thoughts on the market in this exclusive SIW roundtable

Editor’s note: This is part two in a two-part roundtable series on video surveillance trends from the perspective of several industry experts. Part one examines some of the larger, overarching issues that stand to shape the industry moving forward while part two delves into technology-specific trends and how they will impact the market in 2016 and beyond.

The pace of innovation in video surveillance seems to grow exponentially with each passing year. Just as people are getting used to having something established as an industry technology standard, something more advanced is already being developed to take its place.

For example, it wasn’t all that long ago that H.264 became the default video compression format throughout the industry, but now some vendors have already set their sights on preparing for the arrival of H.265. Granted, there are still a number of things that have to be worked out before H.265 can gain widespread adoption in the market, but the fact that vendors are already bracing for it demonstrates the speed with which technology now changes in the industry.

Our panel of industry experts weighs in on the emerging technologies that stand poised to disrupt the market moving forward in part two of our roundtable discussion.  

SIW: We’ve obviously seen a greater proliferation of 4K and multi-sensor, panoramic cameras in recent years, but what do you think will be the next great technology innovation in video moving forward?

Josh Woodhouse, senior market analyst, video surveillance, IHS: While we have seen very high growth in 4K and 180/360-degree cameras, it is important to remember these are niche products in the sense they account for small proportions of unit shipments in the respective categories.

We’ve already seen even higher resolution HD CCTV concepts demonstrated to 3-5 megapixel equivalent resolutions. Eventually this will evolve to UHD CCTV (4K). HD CCTV technology will continue to sell in high volumes with low prices for the smaller channel count cameras plus DVR systems but is still expected to have only a limited effect on the network equipment market.

Use of body-worn cameras will grow rapidly over the next few years, expanding from just law enforcement use into manned guarding. We should expect traditional video surveillance vendors and software providers to become more involved not only in this market but also into the realms of commercial security drones (even unmanned guarding). The integration of both these technologies into our existing – traditionally fixed video surveillance systems will be an exciting trend to watch out for.

Fredrik Nilsson, general manager, Axis Communications: Over the past decade, camera technologies have quickly evolved to create video with higher resolution, frame-rate and detail. While these advancements and the launch of 4K products are beneficial for forensic use, they pose a challenge when it comes to storage. With many of the popular methods used to limit storage needs removing the very information that new technologies made possible, the industry is in need of improved compression technology.

While H.265 is promising, it comes with its own challenges. One of the biggest barriers to H.265 is that it requires forklift upgrading of the whole system, meaning cameras, servers and software. To add to the complexity, there is confusion with different organizations representing patent pools for H.265. While H.264 is likely to be the video standard of choice for the foreseeable future, there will be advancements using existing algorithms to further reduce bit rates and help manage increased bandwidth from 4K and multi-sensor products.

Tom Cook, vice president of sales, North America, Samsung: Before we can look at the “next big thing,” we have to get to the point where 4K has reached its potential. So far, adoption has been somewhat slow to materialize, largely due to the bandwidth and storage costs needed to support Ultra HD video. Ultimately, the market will adopt the 4K format in the next year, especially when the new H.265 compression technology is in wide use. In that sense, H.265 could be considered the “next big thing” given its potential impact on the adoption of 4K for video surveillance.

Karl Erik Traberg, head of corporate communications, Milestone Systems: We will see even more multi-sensor technology coming to market with combinations of daylight and infrared sensors, which will greatly improve the ability of cameras to produce video and images which were not possible earlier.

Also, high-sensitivity sensors and high-performance image processors will enable the color recognition of people and settings at light levels roughly equivalent to the illumination of moonlight. By comparison, conventional night-time surveillance to date has only been possible within a limited range with the aid of infrared illumination, or by using a night mode that only captures images in black and white. Basically, night capture will become possible for the first time without the need for infrared lighting.

In addition to such technology innovations, we expect to see governments, cities and enterprises collaborating more on private-to-public video surveillance system sharing. Especially in Europe, we believe there will be a strong push for interfaces and standards, which will enable multi-vendor VMS deployments to ease investigations and faster situational awareness in emergency situations. Already in the U.S., Milestone is involved in many more public-to-public (inter-agency) collaborations in addition to the growing usefulness of access to private monitoring systems like commercial businesses and private educational institutions.

Dean Drako, president and CEO, Eagle Eye Networks: Cloud technology will serve as the core foundation for innovation growth in video surveillance for many years ahead. The cloud enables new use cases for both security and operations, and immediate and automatic delivery of innovative technology updates directly to each end-user’s existing VMS. Business executives will also experience financial benefits from the economies of scale of a multi-tenant platform, and from the flexibility to pay for “what they actually use”, not for “what they think they might need.”

Ken LaMarca, vice president of sales and marketing, OnSSI: While 4K, multi-sensor and panoramic cameras gained traction in 2015, they have not yet reached their full potential, mainly because the technology needed to support these solutions has struggled to catch up. Therefore, the next great technologies will be those that bring about the necessary advances in data compression and storage density to enable end users’ systems to manage 4K and multi-sensor video streams. Most notable – or at least the most talked-about – of these technologies is the H.265 compression algorithm, which promises a 50 percent greater reduction of video file sizes over current compression standard, H.264. However, to accomplish this reduction requires significant processing power, which is one area where hardware has lagged. The good news is that as the costs of high-powered processors and high-density storage solutions become more cost-efficient, H.265 will become a reality, with all three combining to be the “next big thing” in video technology.

Uri Guterman, video solutions product manager, Qognify: The next technology innovation will be in the video analytics domain, following technological breakthroughs in machine learning such as deep learning.

SIW: There has been a lot buzz surrounding the enhanced benefits offered by H.265, but the compression standard has yet to garner widespread support across the industry. Will this change in 2016 or is there still yet more work that needs to be done?

Woodhouse: Chinese vendors and component suppliers were amongst the first to bring H.265 technologies to the mass market; however, other vendors and some Chinese vendors continue to invest in the further development of H.264. This means in some cases there is not too much difference in performance between some first gen H.265 and the latest generation of H.264-based compression.

However, as the next generations of smartphones and smart TVs increase the use of the H.265 codec in the consumer market, we will see its further refinement and use in the video surveillance industry. Potentially, we are set up for more rapid mass market adoption of H.265 than we saw with H.264.

Nilsson: H.265 represents true cost savings and will impact the video surveillance business as well as the consumer market. The main challenge to its adoption is that it requires forklift upgrades. Also, the initial versions are likely not going to provide as good of savings as some of the current, refined H.264 implementations. Additionally, there is still uncertainty on the patent situation. Taking all that into account, it is more realistic that H.265 will take off after 2016.

Cook: Naturally, adoption of H.265 is directly tied to adoption of 4K video, which picked up steam in 2015 and will continue to expand in the coming year. Because H.265 offers up to 50 percent greater compression rates than H.264, it is almost a necessity for deploying 4K video solutions. Without that added compression capability, many end users simply cannot justify the higher bandwidth and storage expenses 4K requires. At the same time, I’m sure that H.265 will one day supplant H.264 as the de facto compression standard for video surveillance, but server technology is still catching up with H.265 in terms of processing power and VMS drivers that are capable of supporting both H.264 and H.265. These come at a cost, which can be significant. However, this new compression format will begin to gain some real traction in 2016, running somewhat parallel to the adoption of 4K.

Bob Germain, director of product management, Hikvision USA: We will see the first real introduction of H.265 products in 2016; however, cost will be a limiting factor. License and royalty questions will also hamper widespread adoption: HEVC Advance, the patent licensing pool for the HEVC video standard, has announced a requirement for royalties on the H.265 application. Until these issues get ironed out, users should look for providers who offer optimized H.264.

Traberg: This will change in 2016 where we expect to see that most camera vendors are getting support for H.265 in their camera product lines and the VMS vendors will begin to support the functionality as well. It appears that many of the previous barriers of intellectual property rights have been removed (patent rights and licensing have been clarified). This opens up for more widespread adoption, so we expect to see much more H.265 in 2016.

Drako: The gains associated with H.265’s compression improvement across multiple frames to intelligently reduce bit rate are absolutely worth our industry’s continued investment and focus. We can expect more buzz and investment in H.265 in 2016, while adoption will continue to lag. It simply takes time for new standards to gain traction due to the need for a critical mass of support from the surrounding eco-system, including cameras, DVRs/NVRs, VMSs, storage, and PC media players. 

LaMarca: Although H.265 offers the benefit of more efficient data compression and more bandwidth and storage-friendly file sizes, so far its adoption has been slow. The reason? H.265 requires substantially greater processing power than does H.264. Solutions that offer the necessary level of processing are both costly and resource-intensive.  Despite this, H.265 adoption will grow in 2016. How soon H.265 is embraced by the industry is difficult to predict because it will be largely determined by the success of 4K Ultra HD and other high-bandwidth formats and endpoints. If 4K takes off this year, widespread adoption of H.265 will follow suit.

SIW: By now everyone is certainly familiar with the concept of the Internet of Things, but for many end users it remains just that – a concept. When do you anticipate that the market, as a whole, will start to see tangible ROI as a result IoT technology?

Nilsson: Internet of Things, or Internet of Security Things, talks broadly about different categories of devices being connected to the Internet. The concrete benefit for the end user is that previously closed and/or proprietary systems are becoming open, which brings the same advantages to intercom, audio and access control that IP cameras once brought to the video surveillance market. The other benefit is that truly integrated systems can finally be built, instead of the siloed systems we see today.  

Cook: The day when the Internet of Things can translate into tangible ROI on a wider basis is coming soon, but there are certainly opportunities today, which some dealers and integrators have seized upon. The old saying is, “knowledge is power,” and when used properly, the IoT opens the door to much broader and deeper knowledge in the form of intelligence and insights.

To understand this, consider that every networked device generates data. The network offers the means to integrate these various systems and devices – both security and non-security – which allows the data they generate to be collected and subjected to analysis. This analysis can correlate a variety of data from video surveillance, access control, time-and-attendance and other security and non-security systems to create a more complete understanding not only of events that occur, but also of why certain policies, procedures, etc. work better than others.

The ROI, then, is in the data; the more data you can collect and analyze, the greater the potential ROI. Analyzing the data creates intelligence in the form of risks, threats and even opportunities for both the security and overall operations sides. With this information in hand, organizations can take a more proactive approach to security where rather than simply investigating incidents after the fact, it may be possible to anticipate and even avert an incident before it can happen. At the same time, this intelligence also provides opportunities to identify and address potential barriers that may be preventing the effectiveness and efficiency of operations.

Germain: Camera connectivity to other devices will help drive this. For example, traffic and surveillance cameras used for city surveillance will be connected to street lights, meters, smart pipes, traffic lights, and sensors. These linked devices will provide all-encompassing situational awareness for pre- and post-incident management.  New and improved smartphone applications that allow clients to manage security devices on the cloud will also help IoT catch on.

Traberg: We see the Internet of Things evolving in the way that many technology trends do: at present, we’re at the peak of hype, topping the “inflated expectations” curve. We’re still a few years away from the IoT as a pragmatic, productive reality. Security players should embrace IoT because it goes beyond security, and the expectations for it will be driven by end users. However, bearing the lessons of the dawn of video analytics in mind, the industry needs to be very careful of over-promising and under-delivering. We must be pragmatic, and at all stages aim to puncture the technology hype balloon.

One of the barriers to remove is that we have to move data management to the cloud and ride the IT wave of transferring data from on-premise to central computation power as a service. A complete new technology paradigm and business model for the security industry needs to evolve over time and make IoT scalable.

Drako: Many video surveillance systems are already part of the Internet of Things, in that they are a network of objects embedded with software and network connectivity to collect and exchange data. Companies can achieve immediately greater ROI for surveillance-IoT solutions with cameras connected to a multi-tenant cloud system due to the associated economies of scale.  This is a missing component of many existing surveillance systems that is inherent in other IoT applications.

Another compelling value proposition of IoT is that the end devices are available to multiple applications at the same time, to achieve cost reduction and enhanced functionality through resource sharing. We already see this with video verification, such as video integration with access control and alarm system applications.  We will obtain even greater ROI as we connect the same video surveillance systems with other security systems and business intelligence analytics.

LaMarca: While the term “Internet of Things” (IoT) may be relatively new, the concept is certainly not new to the security industry or to society as a whole. For years, the industry has been moving toward networked video, access control and other systems, and adoption of these solutions has increased significantly in just the last couple of years. The growing number and variety of more non-traditional devices that now include network capability has also grown, contributing to the buzz around IoT and its potential.

Undoubtedly, the security market has already embraced the IoT for some time, as evidenced by the number of security providers who offer smart home products, such as smart thermostats, smart smoke detectors and other solutions to complement security. There are a seemingly endless number of other potential applications for the IoT, given the breadth and depth of networkable devices and systems available. End users are searching for IoT technology that allows them to manage their VMS and other security systems via smartphones, tablets, computers and other devices. If products and/or systems do not offer these capabilities, they will seek alternative solutions that do provide this feature.

As a result, the ROI for the IoT is there, and many security providers are already seizing on this reality. The coming year will see continued recognition of the potential ROI that can be realized using the IoT, as security providers continue to find creative and innovative applications that deliver the functionality their customers demand.

Guterman: IoT is still for early adapters and will probably stay to be more suitable for low-end markets initially. It will take a few years before we see systems that are ready to handle the challenges it introduces, such as information security and relevant big data solutions.

About the Author

Joel Griffin | Editor-in-Chief, SecurityInfoWatch.com

Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of SecurityInfoWatch.com, a business-to-business news website published by Endeavor Business Media that covers all aspects of the physical security industry. Joel has covered the security industry since May 2008 when he first joined the site as assistant editor. Prior to SecurityInfoWatch, Joel worked as a staff reporter for two years at the Newton Citizen, a daily newspaper located in the suburban Atlanta city of Covington, Ga. 

(Image courtesy bigstockphoto.com/viperagp)
Industry experts discuss what trends lay in store for the video surveillance industry moving into 2016 and beyond in this exclusive SIW roundtable.