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Radar technology provides an alternative for smart home security
Radar technology provides an alternative for smart home security

In the state of the residential security market today, we see many who are offering home security packages that rely on numerous sensors and multiple devices to provide a comprehensive coverage of the home and provide peace of mind. Each individual sensor or device within the package provides a specific functionality, and the user finds himself burdened by an overwhelming amount of sensors and devices. This overload is intensified by the penetration of additional IoT and smart devices into the home, such as pet-cams or smart speakers that add to the burden of installation and maintenance. In addition, we are witnessing the rise in popularity of DIY security devices, indicating that users are looking for models and technologies that provide both contract flexibility and simplicity of use. The past years have seen major advancements in radar technology, which have brought the formerly military technology into the consumer space. Radars provide interesting prospects for home security and smart homes due to several inherent characteristics which give it an advantage over existing technologies. The resolution of an advanced radar sensor enables not only presence detection, but also provides advanced features for security, automation and well-being Advanced security and automation features Of primary importance, a consumer designed radar sensor provides the user with full privacy, but the use of radar is also beneficial because it is indifferent to environmental, temperature and lighting conditions. In addition, radar signals (at certain frequencies) are capable of penetrating through almost any type of material, enabling concealed installation, robust monitoring in cluttered spaces and even the coverage of several separate rooms with only one device. In terms of capabilities, simple time of flight 2-antenna radar sensors, which have been around for a while, do not provide much additional value in comparison to existing solutions and are not necessarily competitive in terms of pricing. However, the new generation of radar sensors are also opening up new capabilities previously achieved with optics only. Today, the resolution of an advanced radar sensor is high enough to enable not only presence detection, but also to provide advanced features for security, automation and well-being, all in one. Imagine for example, that the security sensor installed in your elderly parent’s home could also detect a fall having occurred, monitor the breathing of a baby or even leaks in your wall. Due to the unique field of view that radar provides as well as the multi-functional potential, this technology will be the key to the awaited convergence of smart home functionalities and minimisation of home devices. The security sensor installed in your elderly parent’s home could also detect a fall having occurred Secret of the consumer radar A radar sensor’s accuracy and its ability to support wide functionality and applications is determined initially by its resolution, which is based on two key factors: bandwidth and number of channels. The wider the bandwidth and the more channels the radar supports, the more accurate the data received. Imagine the difference between a 1990s television model and a 4K 2018 television model - As the resolution is ever improving, the sharper and more detailed is the image. When looking at the short-range radar sensor market, prominent companies such as Texas Instruments and NXP are offering radar-on-chip solutions supporting 2\3 transmitters (Tx) and 3\4 receivers (Rx), mainly utilising frequency bands of 77-81GHz, as they target mostly automotive and autonomous driving applications. Another company that develops such radar-on-chip solution is Vayyar Imaging, an Israeli start-up, founded in 2011, that developed a radar sensor for 3D imaging. Vayyar Imaging directly targets the smart home and security markets with its radar-on-chip, developing modules and products for intruder detection, automation and elderly care (fall detection). Providing not only chips, but complete systems, the new model makes radar technology highly available and accessible. The radar-on-chip technology opens the door to installation of security and well-being devices in locations where privacy or environmental conditions pose an issue Radar-on-chip solution The radar-on-chip solution supports 72 full transceivers, an integrated DSP and radar bands between 3-81GHz. The resolution provided by this type of specification is high enough to provide subtle information about people’s real time location posture (lying down\falling\sitting\walking), and breathing, and enables to classify pets from humans, but it is low enough as to not compromise privacy. This type of technology opens the door to installation of security and well-being devices in locations where privacy or environmental conditions pose an issue, such as in bathrooms or heavily lit environments. Moreover, utilisation of this technology allows to dramatically minimise the numbers of sensors installed in the home, as it provides full home coverage with just one or two sensors and enables using the same HW to support additional capabilities such as breath monitoring, fall detection and highly accurate automation. Using AI and machine learning, the data derived by these sensors can be leveraged to provide smarter, verified alerts on the one hand and whole new insights on the on the other. The sensor can be tuned to learn the location of the house entrances or boundaries, where the inhabitants are expected to be at night, or where they should be expected to enter from into the home, adding new logics to the traditional yes\no decision making. Home security is widely regarded as a necessity, provides peace of mind to people and is integral to people's day to day lives Additional smart home services Among the evolving home technology verticals, security is by far the most relevant and integral to people’s day to day lives. Home security is widely regarded as a necessity and provides peace of mind to people. Being a legacy industry with many well-known and well-trusted brands, security players are well positioned to introduce new technology into the home and have the ability and credibility to expand their offerings to additional smart home services by utilising existing infrastructure and channels. With technology giants entering the security arena through the smart home door the DIY security solution market expected to explode with a CAGR of 22.4% (according to a report by Persistence Market Research). Now that new pricing and service models offer minimal commitment, traditional security players will need to step up. Security companies will need to explore new technologies and expand their offering if they intend to stay relevant and competitive in a market trending on functionality converge and minimisation of maintenance and installation costs.

Are your surveillance monitors prepared for the latest video technology developments?
Are your surveillance monitors prepared for the latest video technology developments?

Everybody has been hooked on the discussions about Analogue HD or IP systems, but shouldn’t we really be thinking about WiFi and 5G connectivity, removing the need for expensive cabling? Are wireless networks secure enough? What is the potential range? Even the basic question about whether or not the network is capable of transferring the huge (and growing) amount of data required for High Res Video, which will soon be quadrupled with the advent of 4K and higher resolutions. The future of video surveillance monitors We have seen a massive uptake in 4K monitors in the security industry. While they have been relatively common in the consumer market, they are only now beginning to really take off in the CCTV market, and the advances in Analogue HD and IP technology mean that 4K is no longer the limited application technology it was just a few years ago. Relatively easy and inexpensive access to huge amounts of storage space, either on physical storage servers or in the cloud, both of which have their own positives and negatives, have really helped with the adoption of 4K. Having said that the consensus seems to be, at least where displays are concerned, there is very little need for any higher resolution. So, where next for monitors in CCTV? 8K monitors are present, but are currently prohibitively expensive, and content is in short supply (although the Japanese want to broadcast the Tokyo Olympics in 8K in 2020). Do we really need 8K and higher displays in the security industry? In my own opinion, not for anything smaller than 100-150+ inches, as the pictures displayed on a 4K resolution monitor are photo realistic without pixilation on anything I’ve seen in that range of sizes. The consensus seems to be, at least where displays are concerned, there is very little need for any higher resolution Yes, users many want ultra-high resolution video recording in order to capture every minute detail, but I feel there is absolutely no practical application for anything more than 4K displays below around 120”, just as I feel there is no practical application for 4K resolution below 24”. The higher resolution camera images can be zoomed in and viewed perfectly well on FHD and 4K monitors. That means there has to be development in other areas. Developments in WiFi and 5G What we have started to see entering the market are Analogue HD and IP RJ45 native input monitors. Whilst you would be forgiven for thinking they are very similar, there are in fact some huge differences. The IP monitors are essentially like All-In-One Android based computers, capable of running various versions of popular VMS software and some with the option to save to onboard memory or external drives and memory cards. These are becoming very popular with new smaller (8-16 camera) IP installs as they basically remove the need for an NVR or dedicated storage server. Developments in the area of WiFi and 5G connectivity are showing great promise of being capable of transferring the amount of data generated meaning the next step in this market would maybe be to incorporate wireless connectivity in the IP monitor and camera setup. This brings its own issues with data security and network reliability, but for small retail or commercial systems where the data isn’t sensitive it represents a very viable option, doing away with both expensive installation of cabling and the need for an NVR. Larger systems would in all likelihood be unable to cope with the sheer amount of data required to be transmitted over the network, and the limited range of current wireless technologies would be incompatible with the scale of such installs, so hard wiring will still be the best option for these for the foreseeable future. There will be a decline in the physical display market as more development goes into Augmented and Virtual Reality Analogue HD options Analogue HD options have come a long way in a quite short time, with the latest developments able to support over 4MP (2K resolution), and 4K almost here. This has meant that for older legacy installations the systems can be upgraded with newer AHD/TVI/CVI cameras and monitors while using existing cabling. The main benefit of the monitors with native AHD/TVI/CVI loopthrough connections is their ability to work as a spot monitor a long distance from the DVR/NVR. While co-axial systems seem to be gradually reducing in number there will still be older systems in place that want to take advantage of the benefits of co-axial technology, including network security and transmission range. Analogue technologies will eventually become obsolete, but there is still much to recommend them for the next few years. Analogue technologies will eventually become obsolete, but there is still much to recommend them for the next few years Another more niche development is the D2IP monitor, which instead of having IP input has HDMI input and IP output, sending all activity on the screen to the NVR. This is mainly a defence against corporate espionage, fraud and other sensitive actions. While this has limited application those who do need it find it a very useful technology, but it’s very unlikely to become mainstream in the near future. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Does the monitor industry as a whole have a future? In the longer term (decades rather than years) there will definitely be a decline in the physical display market as more and more development goes into AR (Augmented Reality or Mixed Reality depending on who’s definition you want to take) and VR (Virtual Reality). Currently AR is limited to devices such as smartphones (think Pokémon Go) and eyewear, such as the ill-fated Google Glass, but in the future, I think we’ll all have optical implants (who doesn’t want to be The Terminator or RoboCop?), allowing us to see whatever we decide we want to as an overlay on the world around us, like a high-tech HUD (Heads Up Display). VR on the other hand is fully immersive, and for playback or monitoring of camera feeds would provide a great solution, but lacks the ability to be truly useful in the outside world the way that AR could be. Something not directly related to the monitor industry, but which has a huge effect on the entire security industry is also the one thing I feel a lot of us have been oblivious to is the introduction of quantum computers, which we really need to get our heads around in the medium to long term. Most current encryption technology will be rendered useless overnight when quantum computers become more widespread. So, where does that leave us? Who will be the most vulnerable? What can we do now to mitigate the potential upheaval? All I can say for sure is that smarter people than me need to be working on that, alongside the development of the quantum computer itself. Newer methods of encryption are going to be needed to deal with the massive jump in processing power that comes with quantum. I’m not saying it will happen this year, but it is definitely on the way and something to be planned for.

Networking basics for security professionals:  Transmission limitations
Networking basics for security professionals: Transmission limitations

Transmission of video and PoE power for IP security cameras over infrastructures can be confusing. Network infrastructures are designed using twisted pair cabling that we refer to as CAT (short for Category) cable, also referred to as UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair). Security systems, coming from an analogue environment, have historically transmitted over coax cable, and with the use adaptors can transmit over CAT cabling, which can be further broken down into single pair twist and untwisted applications. Cabling shares one, often misunderstood commonality. Any physical medium has a form of resistance to any element carried on that cable. With regard to network transmission over CAT 5 and greater (5e, 6, 7), there is a distance limitation of 328 feet or 100 meters. The applicable standards state that the bandwidth applied at one end of the cable at 10/100/1000 (1G)Mbps will be realized at the other end. This is also where we find the first limitation. At this same 328-foot distance there is a loss of PoE power. 802.3af or 15.4 watts is a value realized only at the PoE source. Under the standard, after traveling through 328 feet, the power at the camera is 12.95 watts. The same is true for 802.3at which has a source power of 30 watts and 328-foot distance power of 25 watts. The advent of IP security cameras has resulted in the need to maintain existing coax cable for networking applications. The first thing to realise is there are no standards for network transmission over coax. In reality the characteristics governing coax can be considered the opposite of CAT twisted pair cable. CAT cabling for network transmission consists of 4 wire pair, 2 of which are used for signal and PoE transmission. This ability to separate PoE and bandwidth transmitting over two pairs maximises power transmission. Coax cable, when used in the same application, is limited to a single pair – centre conductor and shield. Its characteristics promote bandwidth but limit PoE transmission compared to UTP cable. I emphasize again, there are no standards for coax cable transmission. This process becomes more confusing when you realise there are various type of cables that are called either UTP or Coax. All of these cable have different characteristics that have a direct impact on their ability to transmit bandwidth and PoE. The standards for UTP transmission were set for CAT 5 (5e). Categories 6, 7 and above will tend to have lower cable resistance and longer transmission distance; CAT 3, higher resistance and shorter distance. Common types of coax cable have varying distance limitations The same applies to coax cable. Again there is no standard, the typical cable found in analogue security applications is RG-59. In general, application distance limitations ran between 750 to 1000 feet, greater than the 328 network limitation. This is why extenders are required to convert from coax to UTP and to extend the signal and power range. As with UTP cable, there are two similarities. First, there are different grades of coax; second, there are different types. All these differences generally apply to cable resistance and therefore distance performance.  The most common types of coax cable are: RG 59, RG 6 and RG 11 Why is this important? In general there are two reasons. The first is in specifying equipment for a video security system, you are generally dealing with existing wiring and a fixed performance requirement. It is important to know the type and condition of the wiring in order to know what system performance requirements can be met. Second is a function of understanding specifications for the transmission equipment that will be used in the infrastructure. As noted, when maintaining coax, the use of coax-to-Ethernet convertors/extenders is required. In many cases even when UTP is used, distances over the 328-foot limit are required. A manufacturer’s product specification sheet can truthfully state their products can perform at 100 Mbps, they can handle 802.3at 30 watts and they can transmit distances up to 6,000 feet. However these must be viewed as separate performance claims. The key word is separate. Notice in these statements there is nothing that ties 100Mbps and/or 30 watts (these are examples only) and claimed distance of 6,000 feet together. Neither is the type of cable used indicated. By themselves, each individual claim is truthful; however, applications require they work together, and this is usually not the case. Many times it is difficult to read between the lines of manufacturer’s specifications. Failure to do so can cost additional time, money and even lead to removing the infrastructure itself. There is a simple answer. Call the manufacturer and have them confirm that their solution will perform as required for your specific application. If necessary, ask for proof that they have conducted testing to support their performance claims. Infrastructure is confusing, and you don’t need to be an expert, you just need to ask the right person(s) the right questions.

Latest ASL Safety and Security Ltd news

ASL Safety and Security to display new and existing products at Integrated Systems Europe 2017
ASL Safety and Security to display new and existing products at Integrated Systems Europe 2017

Both VIPEDIA-12 and INTEGRA support direct fibre network connectivity ASL Safety and Security will be exhibiting at Integrated Systems Europe 2017 (ISE 2017) at Amsterdam RAI exhibition centre, 7th-10th February, 2017, showcasing a host of brand new products including INTEGRA, an all-in-one public address/voice alarm system; VIPEDIA RACK, a rack-based EN54 solution; WMC01, a touch sensitive audio controller; and VIPEDIA CONTROL PROTOCOL (VCP), a new text-based control interface. ASL - Applications Solutions (Safety and Security) is a UK-based systems manufacturer of high-end public address, voice alarm, commercial audio and control system products internationally renowned across transport industries for reliable and complex long-line solutions. ASL’s new product ranges cater for a wide range of industries including transport, retail, stadia, nuclear, roads, tunnels, and oil & gas industries. Established in 1989 and operating from its UK headquarters in Lewes, East Sussex, ASL also operates from offices in Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong. A full complement of technical, sales, and marketing personnel from ASL is looking forward to welcoming visitors in Hall 7 (stand no.7-E225) for the duration of ISE 2017 to discuss latest product and market developments and to demonstrate new and existing products including the exciting VIPEDA product range.INTEGRA wall-mounted solution One of the more recent additions to the VIPEDIA product family, the INTEGRA wall-mounted solution forms a single-box, EN54 compliant public address and voice alarm system. Sleek and uncluttered, INTEGRA is designed with a modular approach and builds upon the proven technology of ASL’s D-series transformerless amplifiers and VIPEDIA DSP. INTEGRA greatly reduces the need for expensive design and build often required for rack-based voice alarm systems. WMC01 offers both IP and RS485 interfaces, allowing remote control of the local PA system without complicated wiring Both VIPEDIA-12 and INTEGRA now support direct fibre network connectivity, removing the need for third-party network switches—simplifying the delivery of EN54-16 certified voice alarm systems. Integral battery charging and supply ensures simple EN54 compliance. INTEGRA offers both impedance and DC loudspeaker circuit monitoring, and includes standby amplification to ensure the system will continue to operate even in the event of an amplifier failure. With each unit capable of delivering 2000W and catering for up to 10 zones, INTEGRA is suitable for both small and large systems alike. Highly flexible, multiple INTEGRA’s can be networked together over IP via integrated EN54 network switches to form larger, distributed systems, and can be easily installed into existing systems for retrofit solutions.Suitable applications include office blocks, retail stores, hospitals, university campuses and schools. WMC01 audio controller The WMC01 is an audio controller with a simple, intuitive design. Touch-sensitive buttons allow switching between various audio sources quickly and easily, whilst also offering volume level adjustment and muting of sound in the local zone.WMC01 offers both IP and RS485 interfaces, allowing remote control of the local PA system without complicated wiring. A local 3.5mm audio input allows users to connect an audio source directly. The WMC01 is available in black or gold finishes and can be flush-mounted.VIPEDIA rack VIPEDIA-12 technology combines over 20 years of voice alarm experience, and forms the heart of the ASL’s VIPEDIA rack-based EN54 solution. It takes care of every part of the system, from the monitoring of the loudspeakers and microphones, to the routing of messages to many zones simultaneously. The VIPEDIA-12 has been designed so that several units can be seamlessly linked together With on-board messages storage, powerful DSP based audio processing, Dante audio networking, and EN54 certification, VIPEDIA offers a unique combination of professional audio processing and voice alarm reliability. Lightweight yet powerful D-series amplifiers have been designed to be as environmentally friendly and as power-efficient as possible. Automatic sleep mode operates 24/7, where amps run on ultra-low power consumption during quiet periods and are only activated when they are needed.The V2000 mainframe houses up to 10 D-series transformerless amplifiers in just 2U of rack space, whilst integrated EN54-4 compliant battery chargers remove the need to house a separate charger, and provides enough current to charge the system to full capacity with ease. The VIPEDIA-12 has been designed so that several units can be seamlessly linked together over fibre to form a large distributed system. With multiple racks in various locations networked together, complete control can be maintained over huge distances. VIPEDIA Control Protocol (VCP) Vipedia Control Protocol (VCP) enables source selection and volume adjustment from any device capable of sending simple ASCII text over IP. Typical examples include touchscreen devices from VITY, Crestron, AMX. By communicating through a simple text-based language, integration is fast, simple, and easy to implement. With touchscreen control fast becoming the preferred way of managing systems, ASL’s public address, voice alarm and audio solutions can now easily integrate with and be controlled by such devices.

ASL ensures safety at London's City Thameslink train station through iVENCS 3D control system
ASL ensures safety at London's City Thameslink train station through iVENCS 3D control system

  iVENCS 3D control system at City Thameslink station will analyse voice, data and video as per the requirement ASL Safety & Security has delivered its iVENCS 3D control and supervisory platform at City Thameslink train station in London as part of the Thameslink programme. iVENCS is a sensor and event fusion environment in which voice, data and video can be filtered, analysed and directed from the full range of subsystems used at transport hubs. At City Thameslink, iVENCS is monitoring public address and voice alarm (PA/VA), CCTV, help points, alarm reporting and voice recorders.The PA/VA systems employ ASL's own Vipet IP audio controller, a hardware platform developed in conjunction with the VIPA software suite that provides a VoIP and digital voice announcement solution for railway stations and airports.iVENCS is aimed at mission-critical facilities that require life like representation of events within an integrated control environment across many disciplines and subsystems. Use of a distributed and open standards-based ‘publish and subscribe' model for messaging ensures efficient use of bandwidth compared with rival ‘hub and spoke' architecture control room software. The installation at City Thameslink is the first stage in a three-part infrastructure project that ASL is providing for the rail division of engineering design consultancy Atkins who in turn are working for Network Rail. The Thameslink programme will deliver longer, more frequent trains across London. The Thameslink route franchise has been operated by the train operating company (TOC) First Capital Connect since 2006. All three stations will have their own operational centres employing the iVENCS control solution In a second stage, ASL will supply its subsystem supervisory software and VoIP hardware at Blackfriars Station, a site that poses unique logistical challenges for all contractors since it lies on both sides of the River Thames. The final phase of the project will be Farringdon Station to the north of the city's financial quarter. All three stations will have their own operational centres employing the iVENCS control solution.ASL Safety & Security won the contract in open tender based on the functionality of iVENCS shown in successful deployment at a major international airport and at St. Pancras International Station - currently Europe's busiest rail hub - where the software controls over 8,500 field devices across 16 subsystems.Sousan Azimrayat, Founding Director of ASL, said: "All safety, security and communication systems at City Thameslink are being represented to First Capital Connect as meaningful images in real time. Our remit has included configuration, installation, creation of training material and consideration of the end-user's corporate culture and working practices. During temporary enabling works as the station neared completion, ASL even installed an interim public address system before the central monitoring process went live."She continued: "City Thameslink is unusual in that it is a mainline station whose platforms are underground, a feature that affected the design of many of the communication subsystems and the fully-interactive 3D GUI model created by ASL. In addition to equipment supply, ASL's software remit included an architectural design overview, operator interface design and preventative maintenance procedures."

ASL provides networked voice alarm system at Dungeness power station
ASL provides networked voice alarm system at Dungeness power station

   ASL provided a networked public address system for the Dungeness site A networked public address system from UK-based ASL Safety & Security has been installed at the Dungeness site, a former nuclear power station in the southeast of England now being decommissioned. The Dungeness project features customised microphones connected to the client's voice information consoles with toggle switching that triggers digital voice announcement (DVA) messages. The four-zone monitored PA system covers much of Dungeness A which is a legacy Magnox power station.  Areas where access to the public address system can be obtained by microphone include the central control room, emergency indication centre, emergency control room and reception. Following a successful first phase, ASL's rack-mounted Intellevac voice information network was installed to BS 5839-8:2008-compliant standards in the nuclear facility's accommodation block which has been created so that staff can be moved off site while a new building with improved IT facilities has been constructed. The power station is using ASL's digital microphone stations monitored by audio routers with full digital signal processing. The units are fully software-configurable and they feature built-in DVAs and fire system interfaces. The network interface adapter used here (VAR-NIA) is a rack mount unit that allows routers to be interfaced to ASL's Intellevac voice alarm network, all to BS 5839-8:2008. The audio control unit can be wall or rack-mount. The audio router in use at Dungeness (VAR12) is supplying the client, Magnox South, with full remote control, configuration and fault reporting through a serial interface. ASL offers a remote diagnostics product that can interrogate the status of remote routers through a web browser. Dungeness A stands on a 91-hectare shingle peninsula site on the Kent coast. Construction began in 1960 and the facility supplied electricity to the UK national grid for 40 years. Magnox South Ltd is working on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to manage the work safely, efficiently and with due care for the environment.