Questions & Answers

From the Product Manager's POV

Megapixel cameras provide video images with the clarity and definition that users have always wanted from their video systems. Camera provider Arecont Vision suggests that now is the time for integrators and end users to take advantage of megapixel technology. The company's go-to market strategy is to provide megapixel performance at price points comparable to IP VGA and analog cameras, thus opening more applications to the benefits of megapixel technology. For an update, we interviewed Raul Calderon, Arecont Vision's vice president of strategic relations.

Q.We have heard that users are concerned about the bandwidth and storage implications of using megapixel technology. What can you tell them?

A.Arecont Vision pioneered the use of H.264 compression in the security industry as it applies to high-definition and higher multi-megapixel resolution. Arecont Vision's implementation of H.264 on its MegaVideo® platform results in a massively parallel pipeline that provides 80 billion operations per second, allowing full frame rates at full megapixel resolution. With the addition of H.264, our megapixel cameras are able to achieve up to 10 times greater compression efficiency on average compared to M-JPEG equivalents, thus solving any bandwidth and storage concerns.

As a result, users can take full advantage of megapixel technology in terms of image size and resolution with manageable bandwidth and storage requirements and full frame rates at full multi-megapixel resolution. With H.264 compression, megapixel video now achieves the same real-time frame rates as VGA at M-JPEG VGA bandwidth requirements.

Q.In what applications is megapixel technology having the greatest impact?

A.Megapixel cameras are appropriate for any application where an analog camera or IP VGA camera is used. They deliver a significant improvement in image quality, without any real difference in cost. It is possible to take bandwidth and storage concerns out of the budget equation now that H.264 compression is available. These factors open up a world of opportunities for megapixel technology.

We are seeing wide interest across all vertical markets, including the gaming, municipal, healthcare, education, transportation, financial and retail areas. Demand for megapixel technology is coming from virtually everywhere video surveillance is being used and where the need exists for high-resolution imaging. This trend has been driving continued growth. Given the tangible cost benefits megapixel technology delivers, we expect it to continue through 2009 and beyond.

Q.What does Arecont Vision offer in the megapixel camera market?

A.We currently have three series of H.264 megapixel cameras. Additionally, these cameras support H.264 and M-JPEG at full frame rates and provide multi-streaming capabilities that accommodate up to eight concurrent non-identical video streams with variable frame rates, bit rates, resolution and picture quality. This high degree of versatility makes the H.264 megapixel cameras adaptable to the specific needs of integrators and end users.

Q.What new products does Arecont Vision offer for 2009?

A.We recently introduced our MegaDome series with an all-in-one solution. The units combine a megapixel camera, a megapixel varifocal lens and a vandal- resistant enclosure into a highly versatile dome camera configuration. They have all the advanced technology and features of our MegaVideo series cameras with the added benefit of ease of installation due to their preconfigured all-in-one design. Additionally, an easily adjustable camera gimbal provides 360-degree pan and 90-degree tilt adjustment for accurate positioning, and each features an integrated 4- to 10-millimeter megapixel varifocal lens. The domes are supplied in a surfacemount configuration with pendant-mount and wallmount options available. The vandal-resistant aluminum chassis and 4-inch polycarbonate dome also meet the IP- 66 weatherproofing standard. It's a significant expansion of our product line designed to deliver exactly what the customer needs.

Q. How is Arecont Vision simplifying the integration of its cameras with other systems?

A.We have entered into numerous technology and software partnerships with industry leaders around the world to ensure seamless integration of our megapixel cameras with NVRs, analytics, storage devices, wireless systems and other video system platforms. We continually provide our partners with firmware and SDK updates so they can update the drivers for our cameras on their platforms.

We have relationships with more than 50 industry leaders worldwide, including Bosch, GE, Nice Systems, Verint, Milestone, Genetec, Exacq and Mirasys. Additionally, Arecont Vision is migrating its platforms to comply with impending security industry standards. Integrators and end users demand that security system components work together, and we are actively reaching out to partners to ensure Arecont Vision's megapixel cameras can seamlessly integrate with other systems.

Q.In tough economic times, users are looking for return on investment. What is the economic case for megapixel technology?

A.Megapixel cameras are ideal for applications where a single camera can replace multiple lower-resolution cameras. This escalates the economic advantages for implementing megapixel cameras versus conventional analog and IP cameras. Additionally, our megapixel cameras are comparable in price to IP VGA and analog cameras with encoders, which has eliminated any increases in cost while significantly improving imaging performance. It's a win-win value proposition for integrators and end users. To take the economic benefits of employing megapixel cameras further, you need to look at the cost per unit area under surveillance, and you'll easily conclude that one megapixel camera can provide superior coverage over multiple conventional cameras as a result of their ability to capture extreme detail.

Q.What does the future hold for megapixel cameras?

A.With the implementation of H.264 compression, high-definition megapixel cameras are quickly becoming the standard technology for video surveillance imaging and not just for specific viewing assignments within a system. Additionally, the opportunity exists for a much broader use of megapixel cameras as a result of affordable pricing. The challenge is to continue to educate the market on these benefits. It's a message that we, as a manufacturer and technology leader, need to communicate, and the word is starting to spread rapidly as more and more megapixel cameras are successfully deployed in the field.

This article originally appeared in the May 2009 issue of Security Products.

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