Restyling Innovation

Technology advances surround us: cell phones, iPods, flat-screen TVs, video games and so on. Consumers spend $700 billion every year on electronics. In response, manufacturers keep channeling enormous amounts of money into research and development to further satisfy a seemingly insatiable appetite for innovation.

Video surveillance, being a significantly smaller market of around $10 billion per year worldwide, has been repurposing many of these consumer technologies for physical security applications.

Here are a few examples of consumer electronic trends you might expect to see in the physical security video surveillance arena in the coming year:

HDTV
The success of HDTV in home entertainment will spill over into the video surveillance market in 2009 because its 16:9 aspect ratio, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, high-frame rate, exceptionally crisp images and vibrant colors are ideal for large flat-screen video monitors. In addition, the higher-resolution standard delivers the image clarity that is critical to real-time surveillance and archived video that can be used as evidence in criminal proceedings. In a few years, 1,920 x 1,080 could very well become the standard resolution on most video surveillance cameras.

H.264 Compression
Several manufacturers in the security market have already launched products supporting the new H.264 compression standard. These systems are meeting with great success because the technology gives users a choice. They can either use H.264 compression to reduce storage costs and cut overall system costs by 10 percent or more or maintain the same cost while doubling their frame rate or image resolution. In the coming year, expect to see more high-resolution video cameras taking advantage of this superior compression technology.

Wireless Bandwidth
The surveillance industry has begun reaping the benefits of higher-bandwidth capabilities in wireless technology. For instance, mesh networks, based on 802.11 technologies, are making citywide surveillance systems much more flexible and cost-efficient. With the advent of smartphone devices with large screens and 3G support -- such as the Apple iPhone -- users will discover that they can cost effectively monitor live surveillance video remotely.

Storage Capacity
With more efficient storage technology on the rise and costs on the decline, along with the judicious application of H.264 compression standards, enterprise security departments will no longer need to settle for frame rates of 7.5 to 15 frames per second and video retention of only a few days or weeks. Cheaper, more robust storage devices can now support surveillance solutions that operate at 30 frames per second with HDTV resolution and can archive months of video recording. Flash drives will add another significant benefit to the mix because they allow for compact and reliable recording solutions in harsh environments.

Major Consumer Innovations On The Horizon
Now that video and audio accounts for 90 percent of consumer network traffic, we can expect more innovation in cell phones, computers, TVs, video, gaming systems and other yet-to-be imagined electronic gadgets. Imagine watching live video on our eyeglasses or capturing 500 megapixel images with CSIlike resolution. While it might be difficult to predict the next major consumer electronics breakthrough, rest assured we will continue to see those technological advances trickle down to the physical security and video surveillance markets.

About the Author

Fredrik Nilsson is the VP, Americas, for Axis Communications, Inc. He has more than 15 years of experience with IP video systems and is the author of “Intelligent Network Video: Understanding Modern Video Surveillance Systems” published by CRC Press and now available in its second edition.

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