What’s New With Video Surveillance
Experts from eight of the industry’s foremost video surveillance technology suppliers summarize and prioritize the latest solutions. They break down the key ingredients to ensure engineering breakthroughs meet real-world needs to become breakout successes.
Video surveillance has practically become synonymous with innovation as far as electronic security is concerned. Indeed, since the turn of the century technologies associated with video have revolutionized the industry. That transformation continues unabated as omnipresent threats and the quest to heighten organizational efficiencies have created a seemingly insatiable demand.
While the advances and opportunities they bring are exciting news, there is the ongoing challenge of keeping up with the latest developments to determine what makes the most sense from business and technical standpoints. Unfortunately, like many buzzwords, “innovation” is overused and often misapplied. To get a firmer grip on what truly qualifies as innovative in today’s dynamic video surveillance marketplace, SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION, Campus Safety magazine’s sister publication, interviewed subject matter experts from eight of the industry’s leading suppliers.
Presented in reverse alphabetical order by company name, the executives and product managers respond to queries in 10 vital areas. They are: innovation’s true meaning; being an innovator vs. adopting others’ ideas; marketing new concepts; contending with commoditization; designing solutions based on user input; latest video advances; hottest vertical markets; innovations that have yet to catch on; technologies that may migrate into surveillance; and integrator success tips.
What Innovation Means to Me
Frank De Fina, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Samsung Techwin America: The ability to fill a need with a relevant solution that previously didn’t exist defines true innovation. This applies not just to the development of new technologies, but also their implementation and availability for mainstream applications. A good example at Samsung is our continued efforts to deliver leading-edge technologies with added value at competitive price points. This strategy has enabled us to cultivate distribution channels that make it easy for installers and users to acquire and implement cutting-edge video surveillance solutions that would otherwise not be affordable. We believe this has helped to accelerate the deployment of more advanced video surveillance and security solutions particularly on networked platforms.
Dave Poulin, Director of Vertical Markets for Physical Security and Mobile Video, Panasonic System Communications Co. of North America: Innovation is really about anticipating market and customer needs, and building products that best meet those needs. For us, this means working closely with our customers to understand their primary security concerns and coming up with strategies to solve them. Our engineering expertise and longevity in this market allows us to develop breakthrough technologies that result in complete, end-to-end security solutions that protect people and assets, optimize network resources, and deliver the business intelligence necessary to improve the efficiency and profitability of our customers’ businesses.
Illy Gruber, Product Marketing Manager for Security, NICE Systems:I see it as providing tools or solutions that address challenges or needs the user may not have even been able to express. Once they get these new tools, it significantly changes the way they do things. I would also describe innovation as the ability to creatively solve known challenges or needs in ways that reduce complexity and cost. Video analytics is a good example. Users know they can’t effectively scan and process the masses of video footage that stream into the control room. But they can rely on video analytics to identify issues worthy of attention. This allows control room operators to manage events as opposed to just trying to identify them.
Innovate or Follow Leaders?
Kostas Mellos, Commercial Leader, Video & Transmission, Interlogix:Innovation and the ability to adapt existing products for critical market needs are both important. You can design and build a unique product or find a different way of using existing products to solve problems. Either way, technology and innovation work together to provide more safe and secure environments.
Pierre Racz, President and CEO, Genetec: Innovation and imitation are two valid strategies to achieve commercial success. Imitation is not in our DNA. All of our founding members and engineers, and most of our current engineers at Genetec are avid consumers of sci-fi and are more inclined to think about what could be, instead of what is. For innovative companies, especially when they are young, commercial success is secondary to technology. We derive satisfaction less from commercial success than we do from bringing to life really cool ideas. The luck part of the story is that we turned out to have some latent business acumen that ended up serving us well. We now pride ourselves in both being creative in business and in technology.
Blending Ingenuity & Marketing
Willem Ryan, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Bosch Security Systems: The market needs to be ready and a supporting infrastructure needs to be in place for an innovative technology to make a real impact. HD and megapixel technologies have been around for a long time, but it wasn’t until H.264 compression came along that it was possible for many to adopt it. Price is also an essential factor. In the past, the high cost of thermal imaging made it prohibitive for all but government and other high-risk, critical applications. However, recent innovations in the production of this technology have made thermal cameras more cost-effective and therefore more accessible for everyday surveillance applications where long-distance detection is required or where the field of view is partially-obstructed.
Marketing is very important. You can have an ingenious product, but no one will know about it if there is no marketing behind it. On the reverse side, a not-so-innovative product can have a huge marketing engine and be perceived as innovative simply because of that marketing push. The right balance is important to make the technology stick, as is the education of the market on the benefits of the innovation.
Steve Surfaro, Security Industry Liaison, Axis Communications: Solving a specific need is a major ingredient. Color-at-night producing Lightfinder technology is an example of one such innovation that solved a real need and then integrated marketing savvy. By recording a demonstration video in extremely low light in the middle of the night near a series of train tracks or busy city street, this showed where the product has made the biggest impact — in public safety, transportation and critical infrastructure markets. It also showed that moving objects, such as a train passing by, can be recorded in clear, crisp color video in near darkness without ghosting. Alternatively, a multifunction camera with built-in audio, white LED illuminator, intrusion passive infrared detector and talkback features perfectly fit the needs of small jewelry stores.
Fending Off Commoditization
De Fina: In the technology world, almost all true innovations eventually evolve to commodities. Megapixel cameras are perhaps the most common example in the pro security market as prices continue to drop while performance continues to increase. This has allowed users and installers to implement megapixel imaging for mainstream applications. On the consumer side, smartphones and tablets are another great example, as demand has increased production and competition and continues to drive down prices. In both the megapixel and smartphone/tablet example, quantities sustain profitability that in turn drives additional R&D.
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