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Video signal devices & accessories - Expert commentary

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.