DRS brings affordable thermal imaging technology to commercial applications with WatchMaster® IP Elite
DRS brings affordable thermal imaging technology to commercial applications with WatchMaster® IP Elite

Utilising technological advances and expansion into high-volume, low cost manufacturing, DRS brings affordable thermal imaging technology to commercial surveillance and security applications with the WatchMaster® IP Elite. The WatchMaster® IP Elite employs DRS’ proven uncooled 320 x 240 VOx thermal imaging technology. Unlike many conventional video surveillance cameras, the WatchMaster® IP Elite does not require any ambient light or illumination. It detects infrared (heat) waves to provide users with superior thermal images in challenging environments, including complete darkness, over water and in dark corners, where obstacles are difficult to detect due to lighting constraints. The camera system is an Internet Protocol (IP) networked solution, conforming to the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF™) standard and is operational in a networked environment through a central office, remote video management system or through the DRS provided Web interface utility. Consuming less than 15 watts of power, the WatchMaster® IP Elite can operate over its full temperature range in extreme environments while powering within standard IEEE802.3af (PoE) limits over conventional network cabling. As a result, the camera can be configured and installed easily into existing security infrastructure. Measuring approximately 2025 cm3 and weighing less than 1500 grams, the WatchMaster® IP Elite is compact and lightweight. It is sealed to an IP66 outdoor rating, which makes it ideal for outdoor security of critical infrastructure such as airports, utility companies, and nuclear power plants. The camera is available with a choice of three fully sealed and hard carbon coated athermalised fixed focus lenses, which provide a horizontal field of view of 40°, 16° or 9°, and are all capable of 4X digital zoom.

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Clarity in thermal video with DRS Technologies’ WatchMaster® Thermal security cameras
Clarity in thermal video with DRS Technologies’ WatchMaster® Thermal security cameras

Furnishing Systems Integrators with a competitive edge by providing 24/7 affordable thermal solutions that outperform conventional surveillance technologies, the WatchMaster® Family is the clear choice for all of your low light, no light and challenging environments. WatchMaster® thermal camera systems are equipped with DRS’ proprietary Image Contrast Enhancement (ICE™) algorithm for unmatched thermal image quality. ICE™ works to deliver greater image detail by seamlessly integrating three separate processes: (1) Edge Enhancement, (2) Dynamic Contrast Thresholding and (3) Adaptive Rescaling. While Automatic Gain Control (AGC) serves as an extremely valuable function for rendering a viewable image, it is not the optimal solution in every scenario. Many of today’s applications demand greater image detail of the entire scene. With knowledge of these inherent gaps in AGC and fueled by market demand for greater image detail, DRS Technologies continued to refine its imaging technology. Today, DRS' Image Contrast Enhancement (ICE™) provides a more comprehensive and robust imaging solution for a variety of applications. With lens options that range from a wide-angle 90° field of view (FOV) to a narrow 6° FOV and resolutions up to 640x480, WatchMaster® cameras are answering the call for more affordable, reliable detection solutions. IP and Analog video formats Fixed and Pan-and-Tilt Configurations Resolutions of 320x240 or 640x480 Image Contrast Enhancement (ICE™) Download the white paper, Image Contrast Enhancement (ICE™): The Defining Feature, to learn more. ONVIF™ Profile S conformant 802.3af Power over Ethernet (PoE)

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IP cameras - Expert commentary

Enhance traditional security systems within your smart home
Enhance traditional security systems within your smart home

Market dynamics are changing the U.S. residential security market, creating new business models that better appeal to the approximately 70% of households without a security system. Smart home adjacencies have helped revitalise the traditional security industry, and alternative approaches to systems and monitoring for the security industry are emerging, including a new batch of DIY systems. Growth in the residential security market and its position as the channel for smart home solutions have attracted numerous new entrants. Telecoms, cable operators, and CE (consumer electronics) manufacturers are joining traditional security players as they compete to fulfill consumer demand for safety and security. Connected products also provide a layer of competition as consumers must decide whether having category devices such as doorbell video cameras, networked cameras, and other products suffice for their security. Increasingly competitive landscape Smart home services can provide additional revenue streams for the security industry For instance, IP cameras are a highly popular smart home device rooted in security, and Parks Associates estimates 7.7 million standalone and all-in-one networked/IP cameras will be sold in the U.S. in 2018, with $889M in revenues. Product owners may feel their security needs are fulfilled with this single purchase, as such dealers and service providers are under increasing pressure to communicate their value proposition to consumers. Categorically, each type of player is facing competition uniquely—national, regional, and local dealers all have a different strategy for overcoming the increasingly competitive landscape. Smart home services can provide additional revenue streams for the security industry. In Parks Associates’ 2017 survey of U.S. security dealers, 58% report that smart home service capabilities enable extra monthly revenue. Almost half of dealers also note they have to offer smart home devices and services in order to keep up with their competition. While white-label devices are acceptable in some instances, dealers need to integrate with hero products whenever possible when those exist for a category. For dealers who have added smart home devices and services are all potential benefits and good for business Improved customer engagement That 2017 survey also revealed 36% of security dealers that offer interactive services report security system sales with a networked camera and 16% report sales with a smart thermostat. For dealers who have added smart home devices and services, enhanced system utility, increased daily value, and improved customer engagement with the system are all potential benefits and good for business. Security has served as the most productive channel for smart home solutions, mainly because the products create natural extensions of a security system’s functions and benefits, but as smart home devices, subsystems, and controllers expand their functionality, availability, and DIY capabilities, many standalone devices constitute competition to classical security. Particularly viable substitute devices include IP cameras, smart door locks, smart garage doors, or a combination of these devices. Products that are self-installed offer both convenience and cost savings, and these drivers are significant among DIY consumers—among the 6% of broadband households that installed a security system themselves, 39% did it to save money. Enhance traditional security Self-installable smart home devices may resonate with a segment of the market who want security While many security dealers believe substitute offerings are a threat, some dealers do not find such devices an existential threat but instead view them as another path to consumer awareness. They argue that the difference between smart product substitutes and traditional security is that of a solution that provides knowledge versus a system that gives one the ability to act on that knowledge. A common theme among professional monitoring providers is that a homeowner who is aware of events happening in the home does not necessarily have a secure and protected household. For example, a Nest camera, a DIY product, notifies a consumer via smartphone about events in the home when it detects motion, but only when the notification is opened and identified will a consumer be able to act on the related event. Self-installable smart home devices may resonate with a segment of the market who want security but are unwilling to adopt professional monitoring; however, providers can leverage these devices to enhance traditional security features and communicate the value of professional monitoring. Smart home devices and features, while posing a threat to some security companies, are a potential way forward to increased market growth Increased market growth A key counterstrategy for security dealers and companies is to leverage their current, powerful role as the prime channel for smart home devices. Many security dealers now include smart home devices with their security systems to complement their offerings and increase system engagement. For example, as of Q4 2017, nearly 70% of U.S. broadband households that were very likely to purchase a security system in the next 12 months reported that they want a camera to be included as part of their security system purchase. In response, many security system providers now offer IP cameras as optional enhancements for their systems. Smart home devices and features, while posing a threat to some security companies, are a potential way forward to increased market growth. Security dealers have an opportunity to become more than a security provider but a smart home solutions provider rooted in safety. Provide status updates Comcast has entered both the professionally monitored security market and the market for smart home services The alternative is to position as a provider of basic security with low price as the key differentiator. Comcast has entered both the professionally monitored security market and the market for smart home services independent of security. It has discovered that monetising smart home value propositions through recurring revenue becomes increasingly challenging as the value extends further away from life safety. Since the security industry remains the main channel for smart home services, security dealers are in a unique position to leverage that strength. Value propositions must shift from the traditional arming and disarming of a system to peace-of-mind experiences that builds off the benefits of smart devices in the home to provide status updates (e.g., if the kids arrived home safely) and monitoring at will (e.g., checking home status at any time to see a pet or monitor a package delivery). These types of clear value propositions and compelling use cases, which resonate with consumer and motivate them to expand beyond standalone products, will help expand the home security market.

Steps to develop an integrated retail security strategy
Steps to develop an integrated retail security strategy

There are many aspects to consider when developing a retail security strategy, including loss prevention, physical security, asset protection, risk management, and IT. All these areas could be the responsibility of just a few people working to secure a handful of stores or each of these areas could be entirely separate departments, as is often the case for major retailers with locations throughout the country. Regardless of the size of the retailer, there are many different technologies that can be used within a retail store to improve security and loss prevention, yet none should be used in a silo. There are tremendous benefits to integrating security technologies and communications systems together, including enhancing overall safety and security, reducing shrink, and improving operations. There are many different technologies that can be used within a retail store to improve security and loss prevention As the existing security infrastructure is evaluated and plans for the future are developed, the team responsible should consider some of the following questions. Are there areas of the store that require greater security? Are there notifications or other technologies that could improve the efficiency of personnel and the safety of shoppers? Are there other departments within the organisation that could benefit from the data gathered by the security technology? Understanding current pain points within the stores and how integrated security solutions can address these is the key to implementing the best solution. Here are a few “hot spots” within a typical retail store that easily demonstrate the power of integrated solutions. Point of sale terminals Whether it’s loss through sweet hearting or other fraud, point of sale terminals present a significant shrink risk for retailers. Integrated systems enhance security at these locations. Video recording of HD or megapixel cameras integrated with point of sale data makes it easy to locate video associated with transactions and exception reporting. This allows for visual verification of each transaction when needed.There are tremendous benefits to integrating security technologies and communications systems together Other risks like robbery not only result in loss, but also impact the safety of employees and shoppers alike. Panic buttons or bill trap sensors connected to the intrusion detection system ensure silent alarms are issued when employees are at risk. When the intrusion detection system is integrated with the video system, pressing a panic button or pulling the bill from the sensor can automatically trigger a video snapshot to be sent to the monitoring station to provide verification of the alarm and more information for law enforcement when they are dispatched. Adding audio integration to the intrusion system can also result in a message sent to the store security personnel’s two-way radio when a panic button is pushed, or a bill trap sensor is activated. If no security guard is onsite, video monitoring services can allow the monitoring centre to intervene through audio, alerting the perpetrator that his or her actions are being monitored and that the authorities have been contacted. This may cause the offender to flee the area, helping to mitigate the safety risk as well as the potential for loss. Panic buttons or bill trap sensors connected to the intrusion detection system ensure silent alarms are issued when employees are at risk High value displays Protect high-value or frequently-stolen items such as electronics, using video analytics integrated with audio communication Protect high-value or frequently-stolen items such as electronics, using video analytics integrated with audio communications. For example, a person standing at a display for longer than a pre-defined time or touching items on display can trigger a video snapshot to be sent to the store manager and an audio message to play through a nearby loudspeaker, such as: “Thank you for your interest in our smartphone selection; an associate will be there soon to assist you.” This not only alerts potential offenders that their actions are being watched, it also serves to improve customer service for legitimate shoppers – as a retail floor associate is notified that a customer may need assistance. Cash office An access control reader at the door to the cash office restricts access to only authorised individuals. Integrating video can automatically capture an image of the person requesting access for verifying an employee’s identification prior to granting access or for retrospective analysis in the event of a theft. Exit doors If an employee props open a back door – either for easy re-entry after a break or to allow access to another person with intentions of theft – integration of the intrusion detection system to the video and audio system can significantly reduce risk of loss. For example, the intrusion detection system can monitor doors for abnormal conditions, even when the system is disarmed.Loss can also occur when a cooler or freezer malfunctions or when the door is accidentally left open A door left open for longer than a pre-defined time can cause an alarm on the intrusion panel, which can trigger a nearby camera to send a snapshot of the open door to the store manager and trigger the public address system to play a pre-recorded message through a nearby speaker. This prompts the employee to close the door, reducing risk of theft. Coolers and freezers Loss isn’t just about theft. Loss can also occur when a cooler or freezer malfunctions or when the door of one of these units is accidentally left open. The same concept for monitoring exit doors can also apply to doors for coolers and freezers to prevent spoilage. A cooler or freezer door monitored by the intrusion detection system can trigger an alert or chime to play in the area to remind an employee to close the door or to alert the store manager to the issue. While providing surveillance of the cash register area, the camera's video analytics can be used to trigger an alert in case the queue exceeds the pre-defined threshold Serving a dual purpose Retailers can use the metadata from the cameras to gather business statistics like counts of people entering the store While the technology solutions described above positively impact loss prevention in a retail store, they can also extend beyond security to improve health and safety and enhance customer service as well as customer engagement and sales. For example, while securing a store’s main entrance with IP cameras featuring on-board video analytics, retailers can use the metadata from the cameras to gather business statistics like counts of people entering the store. This data can help them understand peak days and times when making decisions about staffing. Or while providing surveillance of the cash register area, the camera's video analytics can also be used to trigger an alert in case the number of people in a queue exceeds the pre-defined threshold. At this point, the same public address system and loudspeakers used to play background music to enhance the shopping experience could be activated to broadcast a message to request another cash register to be opened, improving store operations. For security and loss prevention purposes, video analytics can also be used to ensure that no one enters or leaves the retail shop using the emergency exit. To address health and safety issues, these same cameras can also trigger an alarm if that emergency exit is blocked by an object – improving the safety of customers and employees. When systems are used to deliver data for purposes beyond security, other departments may be willing to contribute toward the cost Metadata generated by the cameras can also be used to gather information that when processed with sophisticated algorithms in the cloud can show trajectories of the paths that shoppers take as they travel throughout a store as well as heat maps indicating where they walk, stop and dwell – all while protecting the privacy of individual shoppers. This information can be used by merchandisers to evaluate the success of displays and store layouts, which directly impacts customer engagement and sales. When systems are used for and deliver data for purposes beyond security, other departments may be willing to contribute toward the cost of the system. This provides an added benefit by relieving some of the cost burden from security or other operational budgets. Product selection Integration is becoming easier using standards and expanding industry partnerships. However, in some cases, choosing systems from a single vendor that are designed to work together can help to speed and simplify installation, while also reducing system costs for both the integrator and the user. Regardless of the products chosen, it will be important for a retailer with many locations to have consistency in the type of equipment installed at each site. This makes support easier and enables a more uniform response to incidents that happen at various stores. As many retailers already understand, there is no silver bullet to reducing loss. However, a combination of the right technologies working together to prevent shrink and improve investigative capabilities can result in smarter and more effective loss prevention.

How to choose the right storage card for video surveillance systems
How to choose the right storage card for video surveillance systems

With increased demands being placed on safety and security globally, and supported by advancements in IP cameras and 360-degree camera technology, the video surveillance industry is growing steadily. Market research indicates that this worldwide industry is expected to reach an estimated $39.3 billion in revenue by 2023, driven by a CAGR of 9.3 percent from 2018 to 2023. Video surveillance is not just about capturing footage (to review an event or incident when it occurs), but also about data analysis delivering actionable insights that can improve operational efficiencies, better understand customer buying behaviours, or simply just provide added value and intelligence. Growth of Ultra-HD surveillance To ensure that the quality of the data is good enough to extract the details required to drive these insights, surveillance cameras are technologically evolving as well, not only with expanded capabilities surrounding optical zoom and motion range,4K Ultra HD-compliant networked cameras are expected to grow from 0.4 percent shipped in 2017, to 28 percent in 2021 but also relating to improvements in signal-to-noise (S2N) ratios, light sensitivities (and the minimum illumination needed to produce usable images), wide dynamic ranges (WDR) for varying foreground and background illumination requirements, and of course, higher quality resolutions. As such, 4K Ultra HD-compliant networked cameras are expected to grow from 0.4 percent shipped in 2017, to 28 percent in 2021, representing an astonishing 170 percent growth per year, and will require three to six times the storage space of 1080p video dependent on the compression technology used. Surveillance cameras are typically connected to a networked video recorder (NVR) that acts as a gateway or local server, collecting data from the cameras and running video management software (VMS), as well as analytics. Capturing this data is dependent on the communications path between individual cameras and the NVR. If this connection is lost, whether intentional, unintentional, or a simple malfunction, surveillance video will no longer be captured and the system will cease operations. Therefore, it has become common to use microSD cards in surveillance cameras as a failsafe mechanism. Despite lost connectivity to the NVR, the camera can still record and capture raw footage locally until the network is restored, which in itself, could take a long time depending on maintenance staff or equipment availability, weather conditions, or other unplanned issues. Since microSD cards play a critical role as a failsafe mechanism to ensure service availability, it is important to choose the right card for capturing video footage.  It has become common to use microSD cards in surveillance cameras as a failsafe mechanism if an NVR breaks Key characteristics of microSDs There are many different microSD cards to choose from for video capture at the network’s edge, and they range from industrial grade capabilities to commercial or retail grade, and everything in-between. To help make some of these uncertainties a little more certain, here are the key microSD card characteristics for video camera capture. Designed for surveillance As the market enjoys steady growth, storage vendors want to participate and have done so with a number of repurposed, repackaged, remarketed microSD cards targeted for video surveillance but with not much robustness, performance or capabilities specific to the application. Adding the absence of mean-time between failure (MTBF) specifications to the equation, microSD card reliability is typically a perceived measurement -- measured in hours of operation and relatively vague and hidden under metrics associated with the camera’s resolution and compression ratio. Therefore, when selecting a microSD card for surveillance cams at the edge, the choice should include a vendor that is trusted, has experience and a proven storage portfolio in video surveillance, and in microSD card technologies. Endurance, as it relates to microSD cards, represents the number of rewrites possible before the card can no longer store data correctly  High endurance Endurance, as it relates to microSD cards, represents the number of rewrites (program/erase cycles) that are possible before the card can no longer store data correctly. The rewrite operation is cyclical whereby a new stream of footage replaces older content by writing over it until the card is full, and the cycle repeats. The higher the endurance, the longer the card will perform before it needs to be replaced. Endurance is also referred to in terabytes written (TBW) or by the number of hours that the card can record continuously (while overwriting data) before a failure will occur. Health monitoring Health monitoring is a desired capability that not many microSD cards currently support and enables the host system to check when the endurance levels of a card are low and needs to be replaced. Having a card that supports this capability enables system integrators and operators with the ability to perform preemptive maintenance that will help to reduce system failures, as well as associated maintenance costs. Performance To capture continuous streams of raw footage, microSD cards within surveillance cams perform write operations about seventy to ninety percent of the time, whereas reading captured footage is performed about ten to thirty percent. The difference in read/write performance is dependent on whether the card is used in an artificial intelligent (AI) capable camera, or a standard one.   microSD cards deployed within surveillance cameras should support temperature ranges from -25 degrees Celsius to 85 degrees Celsius Finding a card that is write-friendly, and can provide enough bandwidth to properly capture streamed data, and is cost-effective, requires one that falls between fast industrial card capabilities and slower commercial ones. Bandwidth in the range of 50 MB/sec for writes and 80 MB/sec for reads are typical and sufficient for microSD cards deployed within surveillance cameras. Temperature ranges Lower capacity support of 32GB can provide room to attract the smaller or entry-level video surveillance deployments As microSD cards must be designed for continuous operation in extreme weather conditions and a variety of climates, whether located indoors or out, support for various temperature ranges are another consideration. Given the wide spectrum of temperatures required by the camera makers, microSD cards deployed within surveillance cameras should support temperature ranges from -25 degrees Celsius to 85 degrees Celsius, or in extreme cases, as low as -40 degrees Celsius. Capacity Selecting the right-sized capacity is also very important as there needs to be a minimum level to ensure that there is enough room to hold footage for a number of days or weeks before it is overwritten or the connectivity to the NVR is restored. Though 64GB is considered the capacity sweet spot for microSD cards deployed within surveillance cameras today, lower capacity support of 32GB can provide room to attract the smaller or entry-level video surveillance deployments. In the future, even higher capacities will be important for specific use cases and will potentially become standard capacities as the market evolves. When choosing the right storage microSD card to implement into your video surveillance system, make sure the card is designed specifically for the application – does it include the right levels of endurance and performance to capture continuous streams – can it withstand environmental challenges and wide temperature extremes – will it enable preventative and preemptive maintenance to provide years of service? It is critical for the surveillance system to be able to collect video footage whether the camera is connected to an NVR or is a standalone camera as collecting footage at the base of the surveillance system is the most crucial point of failure. As such, failsafe mechanisms are required to keep the camera recording until the network is restored.