The last two years have been pivotal for MOBOTIX, the German IP surveillance manufacturer. In 2016, the company entered into a share transfer agreement with Konica Minolta, a provider of advanced imaging and sensor solutions. More recently, the company has welcomed new CEO Thomas Lausten, who joins MOBOTIX with a wealth of experience from companies including Siemens, ADI Global Distribution and Milestone Systems. The changes have been accompanied by an updated look for the MOBOTIX brand, with a simpler logo and more unified branding across solutions and regions. SourceSecurity.com caught up with CSO Dr. Tristen Haage and CEO Thomas Lausten [pictured left-to-right] to find out what we can expect from the new-look MOBOTIX.

High-quality IP solutions in a commoditised market

With a new CEO and Konica Minolta on board, MOBOTIX is set for expansion on a global scale. But how much growth can we expect for a company like MOBOTIX in an increasingly commoditised surveillance market, where many of the larger players compete on price as a key differentiator? While MOBOTIX respects those players, says Lausten, the German manufacturer wants to tell a different story. Rather than competing as a camera hardware manufacturer, MOBOTIX is increasingly positioning itself as a specialist in high-quality IP surveillance software – camera units are just one part of an intelligent system. When MOBOTIX succeeds in telling this story, partners understand that it’s not about the price. "They stop selling boxes,” says Haage, “and start selling IoT devices."

To this end, the company is deliberately moving away from promoting individual products and features, and instead concentrating its efforts on complete vertical market solutions where IoT devices can add the most value. These vertical markets include retail, transportation, perimeter protection and industry – although the list is set to expand with the addition of Konica Minolta’s expertise.

When you look at companies like
MOBOTIX where there are people
who have been on this ride for years,
it’s clear they are passionate people

MOBOTIX has the potential to stand out in these markets; not only because of the company’s advanced IoT and sensor capabilities, but also because of its famous robustness. In challenging environments such as transportation and industry, MOBOTIX devices are ruggedised to withstand motion and shock, all the while providing reliable image quality and detection with fewer cameras. In the retail sector, MOBOTIX is already working on integrations with Point of Sale (POS) technologies, and hopes to add value for end users by partnering with experts in the fields of analytics and facial recognition. As Haage explains, “Driving innovation is not just about finding the best image resolution. It’s about finding new ways to innovate.”

What makes MOBOTIX unique?

Lausten sees MOBOTIX as distinct within the industry. This is due to the unmatched passion and longevity within the MOBOTIX community. “The passion in this company is unique,” says Lausten. “When you look at companies like MOBOTIX where there are people who have been on this ride for years, it’s clear they are passionate people.” The company has kept this enthusiasm from the beginning, through MOBOTIX’s continuing transformation to its new-look incarnation today. “It comes back to what [Dr. Ralf] Hinkel made: A community of partners.”

According to Haage, this enthusiasm boils down to MOBOTIX’s mission to provide integrators with high-quality, smart products: “The people on the sales team appreciate they are not selling a commodity – not just a camera – but a smart IoT device with German quality, and this is what drives people in the company.”

While MOBOTIX is 65% owned by Konica Minolta, with many other shareholders, it remains an independent company
MOBOTIX is increasingly positioning itself as a specialist in high-quality IP surveillance software – camera units are just one part of an intelligent system

Developing MOBOTIX on a global scale

Might the majority acquisition by Konica Minolta alter MOBOTIX’s distinct “Made in Germany” DNA? No, says Lausten, who wants to reassure partners. While MOBOTIX is 65% owned by Konica Minolta, with many other shareholders, it remains an independent company. What Konica Minolta brings to the table is a financially strong owner who can advise on technology development. By leveraging MOBOTIX’s existing IP technologies and Konica Minolta’s advanced optical systems, the companies can work together to develop Intelligent solutions for specific vertical markets, including perimeter security and healthcare, according to Lausten.

The challenge is to take what is
already great about MOBOTIX –
proven quality, made in Germany –
and develop this on a global scale

In addition to technology advances, the deal aims to broaden the distribution of MOBOTIX products by leveraging Konica Minolta’s global direct sales network and support systems. Although there are no “open doors” between the two companies, there is ongoing collaboration between Konica Minolta and MOBOTIX channel partners. Konica Minolta has a customer-centric approach and good relationships with end users in Europe and beyond, and can share this experience with MOBOTIX and its partners. While MOBOTIX has traditionally had a headquarters-centric approach, says Haage, the introduction of Thomas Lausten and Konica Minolta allows the company to cater to the individual needs of various regions, including the US.

One might expect this increasingly global focus to mean that MOBOTIX will be varying its approach to products from region to region. On the contrary, explains Lausten, the challenge is to take what is already great about MOBOTIX – proven quality, made in Germany – and develop this on a global scale. Unifying the company’s approach globally is the best way to ensure customers’ needs are met efficiently. “When we do something,” says Lausten, “we do it properly.”

Cybersecurity concerns drive innovation

The company’s focus on innovation and quality is increasingly important in a market beset by cybersecurity concerns. Whereas two years ago end users were choosing products based on price, they are now asking whether devices have a back door to cyber threats. "The biggest concern for C-level people is cybersecurity,” predicts Lausten, “This will be a key driver moving forward."

MOBOTIX's quality-driven focus means the company is well-prepared for this change: One hundred percent of software is programmed in-house, with frequent firmware and software upgrades to fix weak points. In the case of a software reset, this can only be carried out by sending the device back to MOBOTIX, which may seem less convenient from an end-user perspective, but significantly increases the security of the process.

In light of cyber security threats, should users be concerned that MOBOTIX is becoming increasingly open to integrations with other video surveillance partners? The company is aware of the concerns, says Haage, and can therefore take countermeasures. While the market today is based upon open systems, MOBOTIX does not take partnership lightly. By integrating with key players only where there exists a synergy with MOBOTIX’s own technologies, the company can work on new aspects such as IT systems and processes, while taking MOBOTIX’s core products to the next level. “You have to comply with industry trends,” concedes Haage, “but that’s not the whole story.”

Download PDF version

Author profile

Jeannie Corfield Editorial & Content Manager, SourceSecurity.com

Jeannie is Editorial & Content Manager at SourceSecurity.com, where she keeps up-to-date with the fast-paced security market.

In case you missed it

Smart home access control growth and the future of door security
Smart home access control growth and the future of door security

There’s growing noise around smart homes and smarter security. You’ve probably heard it. But there is a place where access control and more have been smart for decades: the workplace. Home automation and IoT are still playing catch-up with the commercial sector. A new insights report from ASSA ABLOY and IFSEC Global — “The Smart Door Locks Report 2018” — measures just how fast consumer smart technology is running. According to a survey conducted for the report, 61% of households now claim to own at least one smart home device or system. Energy monitors, home CCTV cameras, intruder alarms and smart door locks are the most popular, according to the report. All these functions, of course, have been available to businesses for years.61% of households now claim to own at least one smart home device or system Educating the smart home consumer Paradoxically, report data also questions how much consumers really know about their smarter home. A surprising 42% of those surveyed, for example, were unaware they could control a smart door lock from their phone. In fact, many leading smart door lock models offer this feature, delivered by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and an app. Despite a wealth of features offered by the latest smart door locks — remote and location-based locking/unlocking; voice activation; timed access; emailed entry alerts; and integration with smart camera and lighting systems — most people still have limited knowledge of their capabilities.  Smart technology is increasingly becoming the new norm in terms of home security  Only 14% of survey respondents described themselves as “very familiar” with what a smart lock can do. Even though most of them probably use smart access control solutions at their workplace. Secure homes through smart technology Monitoring and security are not the only drivers for smart home adoption. We humans also love convenience, and modern living presents us with problems that smart home technology can solve. Ironically, given the report’s findings, it takes a smartphone to really unlock the convenient possibilities of smarter living. The device that’s “always to hand” is central to the newest generation of smart door locks.A smart door lock is a convenient way for a landlord or agency to offer round-the-clock check-in and check-out If homeowners wish to remotely manage property access for friends and family, many smart door locks oblige. You let in guests remotely, send them a virtual digital key, or provide a temporary or single-use PIN to unlock the door. It is just as easy to revoke a digital key, if you don’t want its owner to come around anymore. This is a significant improvement over sharing physical keys — or hiding one under the doormat. We cannot be totally sure where a metal key ends up and have no way to track or cancel it once it’s “out in the wild”. Commercial access control offers such functionality as standard, of course.  In addition, smart door locks offer more than just stand-alone operation and clever functions. In a domestic setting, magic happens when locks work in harmony with a home automation system, connected by protocols like Z-Wave, ZigBee or Wi-Fi. "Smart" security on the move  The smartphone is becoming a remote control for managing a connected life beyond just home (and even workplace) security. According to Accenture, the parcel delivery services market will grow by $343 billion by 2020. Just like home security, convenience is a major driver of change. Homeowners can send guests a virtual digital key to their phones, or provide a temporary or single-use PIN to unlock the door A recent PostNord pilot in Sweden aimed to remove the inconvenience of waiting home for a postal delivery. Selected customers of some major Scandinavian e-retailers could choose to have parcels delivered inside their front door, if it was equipped with a Yale smart door lock.  Home delivery is among potential smart services covered in “The Smart Door Locks Report 2018 ”. When asked whether the ability to receive parcels securely in a porch or lobby would make them more likely to invest in a smart door lock, 79% said it would.It is easy to revoke a digital key, if you don’t want its owner to come around anymore Holiday rentals and smart home tech ASSA ABLOY research published in 2017 forecasts continued growth in the European holiday rentals sector (at 5.8% CAGR). Smart door locks are also making an impact here, at both ends of the market: for service providers — agents and homeowners — and for travellers. A smart door lock is a convenient way for a landlord or agency to offer round-the-clock check-in and check-out, without creating extra work or staff costs. Both Intersoft, in Croatia, and Hoomvip in Spain have built holiday rentals management systems around an app and the ENTR® smart door lock. Agents issue, revoke, track and manage virtual keys for all their guests, saving everyone time and hassle. Travellers use their phones and an app to unlock their apartment. For these visitors the smartphone is already an essential travel accessory. It is a boarding pass, a credit card, a travel guide, and a postcard home... why not a door key, too? And if this key is backed by a trusted home security brand — and a company with vast experience in the mature market for commercial “smart” security — better still.

Bosch startup SAST addresses need for evolved solutions in security industry
Bosch startup SAST addresses need for evolved solutions in security industry

Security and Safety Things GmbH (SAST) is a new company that has announced its vision for an Internet of Things (IoT) platform for the next generation of security cameras. The Bosch startup plans to build a global ecosystem for the development of innovative security camera applications. Based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), SAST provides libraries, an API framework, and codecs for developers to work with. The SAST App Store will allow developers to build and market new applications, similar to today’s app stores for smartphone applications. We presented some questions to Nikolas Mangold-Takao, VP Product Management and Marketing, about the new venture, and here are his responses: Q: Why a new company now? What technology innovations have made this a good time to launch this company? The time is right to bring market needs and technological innovations together on one platform"Mangold-Takao: From a technical perspective we see two main drivers: increasing computing power at the edge and increasing internet connectivity, which will enable devices to directly communicate with each other and bring new technologies such as artificial intelligence also to the security and safety industry. At the same time, we see that this industry and its users are hungry for more innovative solutions – addressing new security needs while at the same leveraging the possibility to improve business operations for specific verticals, e.g. retail and transportation. The time is right to bring market needs and technological innovations together on one platform for this industry. Q: Why does SAST need to be a separate entity from Bosch? Mangold-Takao: SAST is setup as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bosch Group. We wanted to make sure that SAST is able to underline its role as an industry standard platform across multiple players. SAST is open to get additional investors and is being setup as a startup in its own offices in Munich to foster the environment where speed and innovation can more easily take place. Having said that, several entities of the Bosch Group are very interesting partners for SAST. The SAST App Store will allow developers to build and market new applications, similar to today’s app stores for smartphone applications Q: Please explain your "value proposition" to the industry. Mangold-Takao: We will bring new innovations and possibilities to the security and safety industry by providing an open, secure and standardised Operating System for video security cameras, to also address pressing issues such as cyber security and data privacy concerns. Devices that run then with the SAST operating system will work with an application marketplace provided and operated by SAST. Integrators and users can then use these apps from this marketplace to deploy additional functionality on these devices. With our platform we will be able to build up a community of app developers, including the ones not yet developing for this industry who have expertise in computer vision and artificial intelligence. Q: It seems what you are doing has parallels with the Apple and Android "app" stores. How is your approach the same (and how is it different) than those approaches? We are setting up SAST as a user-centric company and involve selected users very early on in the process"Mangold-Takao: The approach is similar in the way that we plan to generate revenue by operating the application marketplace and thus participate in the app revenue. The difference is that there is much more needed than apps and cameras to create a complete working solution addressing a user problem in this industry – we need to make sure that our own platform as well as the new applications being created will work as a part of an end-to-end solution. Q: "Critical mass" and wide industry participation seem to be requirements for your success. How will you achieve those goals? Will you involve integrators, consultants, or other parties in addition to manufacturers (to drive awareness)? How? Mangold-Takao: SAST is in close exchange with device manufacturers, integrators and consultants, as well as application developers and large end-users at the moment to ensure that we are building the right platform and ecosystem for this industry. We are setting up SAST as a user-centric company and involve selected users very early on in the process. We will run dedicated programs and hackathons to attract app developers, already active and new to our industry. We will also run selected pilots with end-users throughout 2019 to ensure we have all partners involved early on. SAST sees the industry is hungry for more innovative solutions – with the retail vertical market a target for these solutions Q: What timeline do you foresee in terms of implementing these initiatives? Mangold-Takao: While we start with first app development programs and plan our first pilots already for this year, we are planning our commercial launch for end of 2019. Q: How does your new company relate to the new Open Security & Safety Alliance (OSSA)? Mangold-Takao: The Open Security and Safety Alliance has been working very closely with SAST over the past year, defining some important concepts and elements required. One of the most important elements is an open and standardised Operating System, specific to this industry, which will then bring forward new innovative technologies and solutions. SAST is actively working on this Operating System, based on Android Open Source Project (ASOP), but is evolved and hardened with industry-specific features. Q: What's the biggest thing you want the security industry to understand about SAST? What is your "message" to the industry? Mangold-Takao: Our message is simple: let’s build better security and safety systems – together! But for real, innovating an industry is a joint effort, we can only bring new innovation to this industry with partners who share our vision and are excited about new technology. At the same time, we strongly believe that our platform allows every partner to bring forward what they do best but also invite new partners to our industry.

What is the value of remotely monitoring a system's health and operation?
What is the value of remotely monitoring a system's health and operation?

When is it too late to learn that a video camera isn’t working properly? As any security professional will tell you, it’s too late when you find that the system has failed to capture critical video. And yet, for many years, system administrators “didn’t know what they didn’t know.” And when they found out, it was too late, and the system failed to perform as intended. Fortunately, in today’s technology-driven networked environment, monitoring a system’s health is much easier, and a variety of systems can be deployed to ensure the integrity of a system’s operation. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How can remote monitoring of a security system’s health and operation impact integrators and end users?