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Camera apps usher in a new era in surveillance system design

Camera-based apps allow them to easily customise their video surveillance systems with improved performance and cost-efficiency with new levels of ROI

Of the many benefits offered by new and advanced IP video surveillance cameras, the ability to easily customise these devices with third party apps has the potential to change the landscape in video surveillance system design and implementation. By providing the ability to customise individual cameras with the specific functionality desired for every specific camera location, camera apps not only increase functionality where needed, they deliver tremendous savings on a system-wide scale, says Tom Cook - Vice President, Sales, North America, Samsung Techwin America.

The open platform framework incorporated into today’s most innovative cameras allows the direct installation of any one of a number of applications enabling customised functionality. Camera apps are unlike conventional applications such as licence plate recognition which simply detects a licence plate region within a video frame and then passes the data to an external processor for interpretation. With this new generation of camera app technology, all image processing occurs inside the camera for direct output. This provides users with the freedom and ability to deploy their ideal combination of edge applications to match specific requirements, further enhancing camera performance and functionality. In addition, by embedding individual cameras with software functionality via an app, overall costs are greatly reduced through the elimination of centralised software and servers. Some examples of soon to be released camera apps include cloud connectivity, video direct to storage, people counting, intrusion detection, queue management, licence plate recognition, face capture and recognition, transit and cargo recognition.

Advanced processing drives camera apps

In order to accommodate apps, the host cameras require more powerful digital signal processing (DSP) capabilities to perform the complex algorithms that are needed for edge-based analytics and other integrated event-management functions. Digital Noise Reduction (DNR), Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) and Digital Image Stabilisation (DIS) are additional algorithms are also embedded in the DSP on edge devices such as Samsung’s WiseNetIII IP cameras to help ensure the superior quality of the processed video. The DSP arrangement is structured to minimise latency by starting to process the data before a complete frame has been acquired. This minimises data movement and processing latency commonly occurred when large volumes of data need to be accessed and searched in external servers.  

Camera apps deliver valuable data to previously unrelated systems outside of traditional security
Camera apps are a win-win for the professional security and surveillance industry at large

Bandwidth can also be better managed using camera apps since large amounts of dedicated server space will not be needed. Additionally, this innovative edge solution will benefit users with remote sites in their system architecture by enabling more critical data sources to be easily brought on-line. Compared to previous generations of digital cameras, these powerful new image capture devices will inevitably evolve longstanding surveillance system models to move from simple image capture solutions to real-time video capture and analysis solutions. A true quantum leap in imaging technology.

Beyond security

Another tangible benefit that camera apps offer is in their ability to deliver valuable data to previously unrelated systems outside of traditional security. This data can also help drive business strategies related to areas such as loss prevention, guard deployments or retail product placement. Apps can be loaded on any camera located anywhere on the network to quickly and easily deliver a new and valuable source of data while simultaneously fulfilling their primary security and surveillance needs.

For example, a people counting app can be deployed on a camera located in a retail environment to assess customer traffic patterns. Or a licence plate recognition app can be used on cameras at freight logistic sites. For example, as a truck pulls into or out of a terminal, the system can read and register the truck’s front licence plate. The rear plates can also be read to avoid vehicles entering in a procession or piggy-backing on the front vehicle. On exiting, a data consistency check is performed. If a truck which entered without a trailer attempts to leave with a trailer and without validation, security personnel can be automatically alerted. The possibilities are endless with camera apps.

There are a number of new and exciting video analytics currently in development that will be available in the form of camera apps in the very near future. Some of these include signature verification, biomedical image analysis and interpretation, intelligent transportation with traffic sign recognition, target detection and classification for defence applications, and more.

Industry-wide advantages

For system integrators, integrated edge solutions provide opportunities to add value to their design/builds. And for users, camera-based apps allow them to easily customise their video surveillance systems with improved performance and cost-efficiency with new levels of ROI. Overall, camera apps present an innovative, economical way to ensure that surveillance systems meet specific needs, provide compliance, and deliver enhanced versatility.  As an added bonus, integrators and users alike will be able to rest assured knowing that camera manufacturers will be testing and certifying apps on their devices further streamlining integration. There’s no doubt that camera apps are a win-win for the professional security and surveillance industry at large.

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