Driving Video Surveillance
Megapixel imaging, cameras, wireless transmission are game changers
- By Greg Peratt
- Sep 26, 2012
The transition from analog to IP video systems has been a dominant
market trend in the last several years, and the associated technology
transition has similarly dominated the attention of integrators and
end users. Now, there is a new wave of innovation ready to make its
impact on the industry, even as the evolution of video surveillance
based on the benefits of networking is clearly still underway. The newest technologies
are dependent on the capabilities of networking, but they also incorporate
benefits that could potentially remake the industry once again.
First, megapixel video is already being implemented as an extension of—and
enhancement to—networked systems. The industry has only just scratched the surface
of the true and lasting impact of megapixel cameras. Furthermore, 360-degree
panoramic cameras also are on the cusp of transforming the surveillance
industry in a big way. Wide panoramic views can replace multiple cameras and
simplify system design while boosting system value. Finally, wireless transmission
of video signals is poised to expand the flexibility of camera locations and total
system configuration to the substantial and lasting benefit of integrators and their
Each of these three new, evolving technologies has the potential to create a serious
impact on the video surveillance market.
Megapixel cameras. Cameras with advanced image-enhancement features—
such as dynamic range improvement—are already creating expectations of clearer,
more detailed video. The swift advent of megapixel technology is further raising
those expectations, and the full impact of its potential has just begun. Higher
resolution, especially when complemented by intelligent image-processing technologies,
makes surveillance video more valuable for all identification-related applications.
In addition, megapixel images simply contain more information than
standard-definition images, providing a greater wealth of resources for video
analytics. Analytics algorithms depend on data to be effective and to yield betterfunctioning
systems. Whether the analytics system looks to read a license plate or
to recognize a face, more information increases the likelihood of success.
A growing selection of camera models is further enhancing the usefulness of
megapixel cameras. Some manufacturers have put forth the suggestion that megapixel
cameras can fully replace PTZ cameras. This refers to the ability to use forensic
zooming to enlarge any area of a megapixel image and see greater detail. This
useful capability does not fully replace the real-time zoom functionality of a PTZ
camera. However, when the two capabilities are combined, it creates a whole new
degree of efficiency for surveillance operators and further expands the potential
of the camera. 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 surveillance. As a broader
range of megapixel cameras continues to emerge, expanded feature sets will make
them useful to more applications in more locations.
The economics of system design is one of the most significant ways in which
megapixel cameras will impact the market because they can be more cost-efficient
than conventional cameras. Their capabilities are one potential path to lower total
cost of ownership (TCO) of video surveillance systems, both now and in the future.
These calculations are based both on using fewer cameras to cover larger areas and
on the lower associated system costs, including physical infrastructure. Viewing
larger areas with fewer cameras also reduces the manpower needs of monitoring a
system. Using this as a benchmark, megapixel cameras may provide a better return
on investment (ROI) than analog or standard-definition cameras. The marketplace
has already spoken on this point and will likely keep speaking—more loudly and
clearly—as the megapixel transition continues.
360-degree panoramic cameras. For security and surveillance professionals, the
ability of a single camera to provide a panoramic view has practical advantages.
There is only one camera—versus several—to buy, connect, view and administer,
which translates into lower system costs. High-definition, 360-degree panoramic
view cameras can provide wide views of large areas such as parking lots, stadiums
or shopping malls with even greater advantages. The higher-definition capabilities
enable a user to pinpoint a section in the larger image and see important details.
Wireless transmission. Networked video has provided the ability to locate a
camera anywhere on the network, which has greatly expanded system design flexibility.
No longer is it necessary to run a coaxial cable to a camera location. The
newest emerging infrastructure platform—wireless transmission—expands that
flexibility even further. Wireless transmission holds the promise of allowing any
camera to be located anywhere and to communicate—and send video—wirelessly
through a WiFi connection, 4G network or other wireless network. Not only can cameras be located anywhere, they can
be moved anywhere, anytime—and effortlessly,
without having to do any
Consider how these new capabilities
will decrease installation time, labor
and costs. Wireless transmission, in effect,
takes the costs of “wires”—running
them, connecting to them and
maintaining them—off the table. There
are a number of potential challenges
to wireless transmission, including the
bandwidth of wireless networks, signal
transmission distance limitations and
the need for line-of-sight transmission.
A remote power source will still be
necessary because PoE is no longer
workable in a wireless situation. However,
technology is moving fast, and
many of these obstacles will soon be
What Comes Next?
The eventual effects of all these new
technologies may be greater than the
sum of the parts. As obstacles are eliminated
and free-market ingenuity kicks
in, the compounded impact on video
surveillance systems of the future will
be monumental. Here is just a sampling
of where these technology developments
will lead us:
Higher-performing systems. Consider
the impact of video cameras that can
see more, view larger areas in greater
detail and be located anywhere.
More versatile systems. These new
technologies are systematically stripping
away obstacles to achieve better
systems for any application.
One of the biggest developments of
the 21st century so far is the ability to
put powerful technology in the palm of
our hands. The consequence of this capability,
coupled with the ongoing impact
of the technologies we have listed,
is a profound one for the surveillance
Less expensive systems. No wires
and fewer cameras that have more features
all point to systems that are less
expensive to install and maintain.
More systems deployed. Simple economics
tells us that if you lower the cost
of something, you will likely sell more
of it. Such will be true of video surveillance
systems. As prices go down, systems
will be practical, affordable, and
cost-justifiable for more applications
A Higher Level of
One more change our industry faces is
the growing and dominant role of software
to control systems. One beauty of
software is that it can be customized to
the specific needs of an application and
a set of users.
Additional layers of software can efficiently
tie disparate systems together
and increase their efficiency, effectiveness
and user-friendliness in the process.
Therefore, systems will continue to benefit
from higher levels of integration, to
the greater benefit of end users. Welcome
to the new and changing world of video
This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Security Today.