Home Business IT Security What's ahead for the surveillance camera market?

The next few years will see a continuing switch from analog to digital surveillance cameras, and to the increased use of processing power built into individual cameras, according to Ray Mauritsson, president and CEO of Axis Communications.

Speaking at the official opening of the company's new Melbourne office, Mr Mauritsson said Axis will continue to take advantage of the processing power of its custom-designed ASICs to deliver features rather than merely image resolution. For example, parts of some new algorithms for video analytics will be put into the cameras to improve scalability, while other parts will remain centralised (such as database matching).

Mr Mauritsson said Axis will continue to use open APIs so its partners can add their own software to the company's cameras.


But Axis continues to add to the 'smarts' it builds into individual cameras. The recently released Q1602 features the company's Lightfinder technology, which allows algorithms built into the ASIC to compensate for the characteristics of the camera's lens and image sensor. This gives improved image quality even in low light conditions and performs better than the human eye in near darkness.

Approximately two third of the surveillance camera market is still analog, said Mr Mauritsson, but "the shift [to digital/IP] is going on quite quickly." While year-on-year growth is around 10% overall, it is around 30% for digital cameras. He predicted that the market penetration of IP cameras will be between 90 and 95% by 2020. By that stage, growth will be driven by adoption of surveillance cameras by new markets (possibly homes) or by the availability of new functionality within cameras.

He also suggested that the deployment of the NBN will likely see the emergence of video surveillance as a service - the outsourcing of video monitoring and storage to cloud providers. This will be especially relevant to smaller sites with five to 10 cameras such as petrol stations and small shops, he said. "The broadband buildout will help us address that part of the market."


The transition to digital is being driven in part by image quality. Analog cameras are limited to PAL/NTSC standards, while digital cameras operate at up to 1080p, providing high quality images that can be used as evidence and to clearly identify individuals, car registration plates, and so on.

Another consideration is the relatively low cost of installation. Thanks to Power over Ethernet, a single cable is all that's needed to connect an IP camera. In comparison, an analog camera needs at least one cable for power and another for the video signal, and functions such as pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ), audio, and control functions add to the cabling and installation complexity.

But Mr Mauritsson says the move to digital is being held back by systems integrators that prefer to stay in their analog 'comfort zone,' even though if their customers had the choice, they would go for the quality and cost advantages of digital. Wai King Wong, Axis country manager for Australia and New Zealand, said the company was running 'Axis Academy' - a two day training course for systems integrators covering general IP issues as well as Axis-specific material such as installation tips. The course costs around $US100, and more than 300 people have already completed it in Australia.

Mr Wong also pointed out that as an electrician typically costs between $100 and $150 an hour, the quick installation of IP cameras saves money even if new Ethernet cable has to be pulled.



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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.


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