Published on 2 October, 2014
Video cameras were big news at the ASIS International Seminar and Exhibits in Atlanta, but the eagerly anticipated new 4K Ultra-HD cameras took a back seat to other camera innovations, including a rash of new panoramic view cameras in various flavours and types (including faster frame rates) and a renewed emphasis on cameras as intelligent system components.
Samsung announced its new Open Platform program that leverages the added computing capacity of Samsung’s WiseNetIII computer chip inside each camera to enable third party partners to add new features and functionalities at the edge. The Open Platform program can be compared to the “apps” approach familiar to smartphone and tablet consumers. In effect, new third party software can be loaded onto the camera, for example by an integrator, after a camera is purchased or even after it is installed. Even some Samsung cameras that are already deployed in the field can be updated via firmware to enable them to use the new approach.
We’ve been hearing for several years about the possibility of using “apps” to expand the functionality of intelligent cameras at the edge, but Samsung seems to be ready to make it happen, which is appropriate given the prominence of the Samsung brand in the consumer apps world. At the show, three third party suppliers – Agent VI (video analytics), Veracity (storage) and PlateSmart (license plate recognition) – displayed how their applications can be embedded and work on the computer chips inside Samsung cameras to expand capabilities at the edge.
Another supplier, Digital Watchdog, emphasised the idea of camera intelligence using the phrase “Camera as a System (CaaS).” The idea is to simplify security systems by turning the camera into its own server. Digital Watchdog’s new MEGApix CaaS cameras each function both as a camera and recorder, eliminating the need for a dedicated server. The company also provided a technology demonstration of camera views from a panoramic camera that uses four 4K (or 1080p) sensors and provides video at 30 frames per second (fps).
We’ve been hearing for
several years about the
possibility of using “apps”
to expand the functionality
of intelligent cameras at the
edge, but Samsung seems
to be ready to make it happen
Arecont Vision, a pioneer in panoramic view cameras, showed its new SurroundVideo Omni camera with four user-configurable sensors in an omni-directional all-in-one solution. True wide dynamic range (WDR) up to 100dB at full resolution enables clear views in shaded or bright light conditions. Arecont Vision also continues to roll out cameras that use its STELLAR low-light technology, and has a 5 megapixel MegaBall series with panomorph lenses. Its MegaVideo 4K camera, provided as a technology demonstration, features 8.3 megapixel images at 30 fps.
Other suppliers that highlighted panoramic view cameras included Panasonic, which featured its ULTRA 360 panoramic indoor and outdoor IP66-rated weather and vandal-resistant fixed dome cameras built on Panasonic’s 12 MP 4K ULTRA HD engine. The new ULTRA 360 doubles the resolution of previous generation 360 cameras, producing a 9 megapixel 3K fisheye image at 15fps and a 4 megapixel fisheye image at 30fps, with software dewarping. Axis featured the Q6000-E, an outdoor-ready 360-degree network camera that integrates seamlessly with a PTZ dome network camera. Operators can optically zoom in on details of interest with high precision while at the same time being able to maintain an overview of large areas of up to 215,000 sq. ft. – about the size of four football fields. Mobotix introduced an indoor version of its 180-degree panoramic view camera – the new i25.
A new player in the panoramic camera arena is Scallop Imaging, which offers a 5-sensor panoramic camera that offers both 720p HD total panoramic views for situational awareness and full-resolution (5,120x1,280 pixel) partial views that capture detail. The cameras don’t even look like cameras, more like sensors or even molding (they come in different finishes to fit various décors, from wood grain to faux stone).
The new Panasonic ULTRA
360 doubles the resolution
of previous generation 360
cameras, producing a 9
megapixel 3K fisheye image
at 15fps and a 4 megapixel
fisheye image at 30fps,
with software dewarping
But ASIS wasn’t just about cameras – far from it. I saw many other interesting things, too, including a perimeter security robot at the Senstar booth. It was keeping watch near one of the entrances to the show floor, traveling back and forth along a monorail. A first-of-its-kind autonomous perimeter surveillance robot, RoboGuard constantly patrols a secured perimeter. It conducts regular inspections of the fence line and can respond promptly to suspected intrusions. A complete system consists of autonomous robots, each covering up to 1 kilometer (0.6 mi), with a battery charging station for every two robots. One target market is prisons, where the technology could take the place of human guards at the perimeter (and works 24 hours a day with no coffee breaks); it makes the ROI calculations easy.
Senstar is addressing cybersecurity challenges of IP-based physical security systems, too, with the Tungsten cybersecurity-hardened managed Ethernet switches that can protect physical security networks, SCADA-based systems and safe-city applications from cyberattacks.
More and better integration, more partnering among suppliers, new features driven by end user demands – these were also trends I kept hearing about at ASIS. I did several in-depth interviews with industry leaders during the show, which I will be sharing in the weeks to come. Great show all around, and plenty more to unpack and share over the next several weeks.