Whether it is the advent of higher resolution imaging solutions or the continued push towards greater network bandwidth savings in the form of H.265 and other proprietary compression formats, the video surveillance industry is in what seems like a perpetual state of innovation when comes to technology. And while these advances have brought about immense change in the way people think about and use video, many believe we have only begun to scratch the surface in terms of what can be eventually be accomplished with the technology.
In addition to the products, the industry itself has also been in a state of flux. Given the amount of M&A activity that has occurred in recent years, it is clear that the trend towards increased vendor consolidation will only continue in the coming years. According to a recent report from IHS, the industry’s top players seemed to have also tightened their grip on the market, with the research firm noting that 11 of the same companies remained in its top 15 ranking of video surveillance equipment suppliers from 2010 to 2015.
What will these changing market dynamics, combined with pace of technology advancement mean for the market moving forward? I interviewed a number of industry experts at the recent ASIS conference in Orlando to get their take on where video technology, as well as the video business, is headed over both the short- and long-term. Here is what a few of them had to say:
Fredrik Nilsson, general manager, North America, Axis Communications: From our perspective, it’s amazing. Volume growth is still very good, revenue growth is still very good as well, so there are more and more cameras coming out and there are still great opportunities in general. We thought we had pushed (the limits) when it came to Lightfinder and Zipstream, but with the latest chipsets coming out, we are going to take it to yet the next level. Now it is going from really good to absolutely amazing.
When it comes to the IP space on the low- and mid-range, there are a lot of hybrid standards and hybrid solutions with HDcctv-based solutions that are proprietary, not scalable, and I think they are going to have a play for a couple of years and then they are going to die out as well. It’s an opportunity, but the challenges are very different from the enterprise space.
Andrew Elvish, vice president of marketing, Genetec: From a video business perspective, I think we’re going to see a gutting of mid- and low-end players. I don’t think they are going to be able to compete with some of the competition, and it’s going to be very painful for some of the established mid-tier VMS competitors. We are going to see real separation out into enterprise technology and then everything else will run on NVRs at a very low cost. It’s going to be very difficult for camera manufacturers in their mid-tier models to stay competitive. I think you will see a lot of them putting more emphasis on high-end features and looking to partners that can support high-end systems.
From a video technology standpoint, it is going to be much more about how do large-scale physical and operational systems hold together. I think sensors will become much more democratic, and the real challenge will become how to make sense out of all of those data inputs? That’s where the real value is going to come into the market – in taking massive scale sensors and taking advantage of those to gain intelligence.
Sharad Shekhar, CEO, Pelco: In terms of trends and technology, I think there are several. Certainly there is a lot still to come on the hardware side, but it does not compare with what’s going to come on the software side of the business. On the hardware side, the biggest challenge this industry faces is compression and transmission. Everybody talks about 4K, but nobody can compress it. When you look at the Internet of Things progressing faster than what the surveillance industry can catch up with, we see a lot of gaps. For instance, wireless will be a gap because of compression as well as transmission. San Francisco is probably going to be the first city to have city-wide Wi-Fi, and the cameras need to be wireless but we don’t have an answer for that. We can make wireless cameras but they are just not that good – we don’t have the level of security that is required in a wireless setting. All of us have to find our place – we can’t do everything and not everything well certainly – but as a company, we will offer a very broad portfolio of products. I can say with a fair amount of confidence that we will shine in a segment of those products and we will offer a competitive offering in the rest.
On the software side, what keeps me up most of the time is cybersecurity, and the liability that it can present is grossly underestimated by the industry. It’s not just the investment that’s the issue – standards are also the problem. Since we are part of a bigger IT network in this era, standards have become even more complicated. We don’t know how to do it in a way that is standardized across the world. That is an issue that the industry needs to deal with and it’s coming. And then, using the security apparatus to meet the needs of the larger business and not just security through a bunch of analytics – and a lot of very big companies are working on that – is something you will see on the software side.
Jumbi Edulbehram, regional president, Americas, Oncam: In terms of technology, there is actually a lot of cool video technology out there that this industry still hasn’t adopted. For example, in machine vision, they use cameras that can produce 1,000 frames per second and that’s pretty common. Imagine a security application that was running 1,000 or 2,000 frames per second. You could actually watch bullets flying across a camera. There is some technology way out there but I think in the more immediate future, two or three things really stand out. One is, in general, omni-directional cameras are getting pretty popular – multi-sensor, fisheye and the stuff we do – because they are much more cost-effective and cover larger areas.
The other trend that has been around for a while is video analytics. A lot of our customers are asking for it. They have particular applications like, for example, in a casino they want to know how many people are waiting to cash out their chips because the longer they wait there the less time they’re spending on the gambling floor. Pretty much every customer we have has some analytic application or another. And then there are cloud services – we have some customers who have completely moved away from using a VMS and all they want to be able to do is access a cloud service.
Ken LaMarca, vice president, sales and marketing, OnSSI: I think what the industry needs is more seamless integration. There are new logistics packages that actually tie the management of big parcels – UPS, FedEx, etc. – to video just by scanning the barcode and pulling that video information back in and being able to track that package wherever it has been. There are a lot of processes that can be incorporated into video that aren’t necessarily video-related, so I see the integration of all of these third-party systems in a more seamless way.