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Look to the Future

Technology continues to drive new video surveillance system capabilities

Over the past decade, the security industry has gone through significant changes, driven by the times we live in, technology and end users looking to improve the functionality and cost-efficiency of their operations. Consequently, the role of influencers outside of traditional security management continues to evolve and play more prominently into how security systems are designed, implemented and managed.

From a technology perspective, the widespread acceptance of and growing dependence on the converged network have created a corporate nirvana where IT and security management ply their trade—this virtual destination we refer to as the enterprise. With all these variables today, the influencers driving video and security technologies are growing as complex as the solutions themselves.

Imaging in Focus
Video surveillance system technology, although a single component in the new security system model, is largely dictating the pace at which networked and enterprise-level system technologies have progressed. In fact, one area in particular holds the key to the continued evolution of video surveillance and security systems—imaging. Improving image acquisition quality and performance has long been the impetus behind the development of related system components and processing devices.

Breakthroughs in imaging technology specifically designed for security applications clearly can be related to developments in higher resolution. Notable examples include the introduction of CCD image-based video surveillance cameras and color CCD cameras. Two other notables are IP video surveillance network cameras and upcoming network cameras with new chip sets and advanced compression solutions.

Each of these imaging breakthroughs will affect the development of the devices they interact with down the system chain. The network existed across many different business operations and applications well before the first professional security IP cameras were introduced by Panasonic in 2001, but these early cameras quickly caught the attention of industry professionals. After all, the concept of networking was not new at the time, and access control was already benefiting from network connectivity. Looking at the inherent benefits of networked platforms, the thought of a single, cost-efficient transmission backbone for security and business systems holds countless possibilities.

The New Generation
Just a few years ago, networking video surveillance systems had many limitations in terms of image quality, frame rate, bandwidth demands and storage requirements. The applications for IP video devices were limited at best. But new technologies have changed all this. As image capture technologies are developed that deliver higher resolution and better color reproduction, they have driven the development of new processing technologies and software-driven applications that deliver advanced capabilities only possible on a digital networked platform. Panasonic’s i-Pro line of network cameras is one example because the technology delivers many performance benefits, including the manner in which lighting conditions are captured and processed to a multitude of DSP-enabled features.

Now, we are on the cusp of the next generation of IP imaging devices that combine recent advancements in chip design with better compression technologies. IP cameras with high-definition quality and minimal bandwidth requirements are the next system breakthrough.

Once again, core video imaging technology is driving this development, specifically the development of new megapixel chip sets designed for HDquality video surveillance applications. Although megapixel chips are widely used in other image devices like broadcast cameras and low-cost consumer still cameras, they have yet to address the specific parameters required for professional networked video surveillance applications given their voracious appetite for bandwidth.

Experts continue to pursue developments in megapixel imaging that deliver exceptional performance for the security market. Panasonic’s new series of megapixel cameras incorporates many of these developments and feature sets that used to be reserved for more advanced analog video surveillance cameras, such as day/night operation, adaptive black stretch to control contrast and high-speed electronic shutters to accommodate varying light sources.

Additional Developments
Feature-enhanced megapixel IP video surveillance cameras are the critical component required for advanced video analytics development. They provide volumes of detailed video data that will allow video analytic middleware to perform more complex operations with greatly expanded policy-driven features, such as motion detection and object tracking.

The bandwidth and storage capacity requirements for megapixel IP cameras have been the biggest deterrent to their widespread acceptance in the market, which has typically resulted in their classification as specialty cameras. This too is quickly changing.

With the development of H.264 compression, the bandwidth and recording capacity requirements of megapixel IP cameras are being reduced dramatically— in most cases by multiples in the double digits.

New megapixel IP video surveillance cameras will have a dramatic influence on the way video surveillance systems will be configured, managed and recorded. The high efficiency of these IP megapixel cameras allows them to be deployed in place of conventional IP cameras with advanced video analytics and much greater functionality via push technology. This also can reduce greatly the number of video displays needed to monitor largescale systems, the number of monitoring staff required and the server/recorder capacities to record pertinent action in real time at full frame rates.

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