The New Landscape Of Imaging

Affordable, smarter network cameras provide more capabilities at the edge

New developments in network cameras are enhancing their role as imaging sensors at the edge of IP video networks. The new landscape in imaging includes cameras that offer new capabilities, can see better and are smarter and more versatile.

The best network surveillance systems leverage the most value from each system component and offer a wealth of opportunity to improve system functionality at little additional cost. Today’s feature-rich network cameras are costefficient, especially if you factor in their additional capabilities. To appreciate the added value these cameras can contribute to an IP system, it’s important to understand the features these new cameras offer—and how those features can make systems better.

More detailed resolution. Cameras are now available in a variety of megapixel resolutions, from 1.3 to 10 or higher—fitting any application. Most of the growth in megapixel cameras, however, will probably be in the lower-megapixel range—1.3 to 3 megapixels. Higher-quality images are a core advantage of IP systems over analog systems, so interest in megapixel technologies will continue to grow with the industry’s transition to IP systems. Superior resolution enables better identification of details such as license plate numbers and faces. New megapixel cameras deliver more detailed resolution than standard network or analog cameras.

More functionality inside the camera. The chip inside each camera processes and compresses images and supplies additional high-end functionality. New technology offers much more intelligence and enables new, more effective smart functions to be performed at the edge of the network. Smarter cameras help to minimize the system’s computational load and the amount of data that travels across the network, which makes for better use of network infrastructure. Smart functions at the camera level include video motion detection (VMD) functionality with increasingly sophisticated options. Edge-based analytics allow video to be pre-selected, filtered and shared across the network based on content or only in case of an alarm, saving on bandwidth and storage.

Cameras that provide SD/SDHC memory card slots enable in-camera manual or alarm recording. This capability also can provide backup recording in case a system goes down and can be a localized complement to cloud-based storage.

More efficient use of network resources. Cameras that use H.264 compression combine higher-quality video streaming and high frame rates with lower bandwidth needs and storage requirements (at lower cost). H.264 High Profile provides even better picture quality and lower bandwidth compared to H.264 Base Profile. Cameras that provide variable image quality on specified areas (VIQS) can also help to minimize storage needs. VIQS enables non-critical parts of a video frame (such as the sky) to be recorded at a lower resolution to create smaller video files. Additionally, newer video cameras may use 30 percent less power. While equating to only several dollars worth of energy savings in a year, it is an amount that can start to add up in a video system with scores of cameras.

Adaptability to a variety of applications. Newer cameras are much more adaptable to various application conditions. One example is variable lighting. Dramatic differences between light and dark areas complicate the ability of video cameras to view someone standing in the shadows. Stark differences between white and black levels in video images can obliterate the faces or other details of a subject in a darker area. However, today’s cameras can adapt and provide useful images despite lighting variations. Cameras that use progressive scan get clear images with less motion blur and no tearing even when the subject is moving. Many network camera models are hardened to withstand vandalism or environmental challenges. The use of a privacy zone function can mask private areas—house windows and entrances/exits—enabling cameras to be used in more places without creating privacy objections. Lens distortion compensation inside cameras enables natural images to be viewed through wide-angle lenses without distortion.

Coverage of larger areas with greater range. Camera imagers with more megapixels can cover larger areas while enabling an operator to “zoom in” on a region of interest and still have enough pixels in the enlarged image to provide the needed detail. Higher-definition PTZ cameras combine the advantages of more resolution with the additional ability to zoom and see clear images from far away. Combining 720p or 1080p resolution with 36x optical zoom and 12x digital zoom enables 432x zoom in HD, a valuable tool for real-time, operator-controlled surveillance. Advanced auto-tracking enables cameras to follow moving objects.

More smart features including video analytics. Smarter cameras on the edge of the network can identify objects left behind, analyze movement in a specific area—across a “virtual trip wire”— or track traffic patterns, count people, etc. These abilities at the camera level can be integrated into systems that provide additional functionality, and the possibilities are now being explored in real-world applications. Some network cameras can detect faces automatically and even enhance the features of the face for better identification when reviewing footage. The technology functions effectively even in high-contrast lighting situations with multiple people in a frame. Combining intelligence inside the camera with a database in a connected NVR enables additional features such as face matching and determination of relative age and gender.

Easier integration with other systems. The connectivity of IP systems makes it easier to integrate video surveillance systems with other IP systems in a network environment. For example, smart video can be integrated with access control systems. In a retail environment, video can be integrated with point-of-sale systems to provide video of any specific transaction. Analyzing transactions, for example by specifying “no sales” or all transactions above a certain amount, can help to pinpoint questionable sales, and associated video can clarify what really happened and supply irrefutable evidence for investigation and possible prosecution. Hybrid technologies, such as analog-to-digital encoders, can create systems to incorporate legacy analog cameras into new networked systems.

Video cameras are a robust, dependable tool for security applications, and now is an exciting time for IP surveillance systems. Research and development continues to expand the possibilities for effective applications, building on greater imaging capabilities at the edge of the network.

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Security Today.

Featured

  • First Responders Give NIST Their Communications Tech Wish Lists

    First Responders Give NIST Their Communications Tech Wish Lists

    Our first responders have spoken. An extensive research project conducted by experts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reveals what our country’s police, fire, emergency medical and 911 dispatch responders think about the communications technology they use on a regular basis and how they would like developers to improve it in the future. Read Now

  • Study Finds U.S. Enterprises Hit by Short-staffed Security Operations Centers

    Study Finds U.S. Enterprises Hit by Short-staffed Security Operations Centers

    ManageEngine, the enterprise IT management division of Zoho Corporation, recently announced results from its new study, Cloud Security Outlook 2023. The study found that enterprises have a limited number of analysts running their security operations centers (SOCs) and are deploying multiple tools in an attempt to address their cloud security challenges. Read Now

  • Report: More Than Half of Organizations Have Experienced an Insider Threat in the Past Year

    Report: More Than Half of Organizations Have Experienced an Insider Threat in the Past Year

    Gurucul, a provider of solutions in the Next Generation SIEM market, and Cybersecurity Insiders, a 600,000+ member online community for information security professionals, recently released its annual 2023 Insider Threat Report. Overall, results indicate insider threats are a top concern at organizations of all kinds; only 3% of respondents surveyed are not concerned with insider risk. Read Now

  • ISC West Is Two Months Away

    ISC West Is Two Months Away

    The annual “vacation” to Las Vegas is less than two months away. I anticipate it will be an amazing show, and furthermore, I expect the show hall to be teeming with interested security professionals. Read Now

    • Industry Events

Featured Cybersecurity

New Products

  • D-Tools System Integrator (SI) Software

    D-Tools System Integrator (SI) Software

    D-Tools Inc. has announced the availability of System Integrator version 16, which adds powerful new project and service management capabilities to its award-winning, end-to-end business management solution. 3

  • QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    The latest Qualcomm® Vision Intelligence Platform offers next-generation smart camera IoT solutions to improve safety and security across enterprises, cities and spaces. The Vision Intelligence Platform was expanded in March 2022 with the introduction of the QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC), which delivers superior artificial intelligence (AI) inferencing at the edge. 3

  • LiftMaster Garage Door Opener

    LiftMaster Garage Door Opener

    LiftMaster Transforms the Garage Door Opener Into a Sleek Smart Home Device That Does More Than Open and Close the Garage Door 3