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Patience: the ultimate app

Multi-imagers and analytics have been a hot trend for the past year, but both technologies have been around for several years.

August 16, 2016  By Colin Bodbyl

It seems like every year there is at least one product or feature that manufacturers suddenly start climbing over each other to develop. It is not unusual to see revolutionary products take years to catch on. Most times it is the result of working out the kinks and bringing down cost that drives a product out from the shadows and into the spotlight. With thousands of products and features available today, here are three that stand out as future trends.

Thermal cameras have been around for years. Until recently, one manufacturer dominated the thermal market, but other manufacturers have started to release their own lines of thermal cameras and the competition is heating up. Thermal cameras have a multitude of applications. They are ideal for intrusion detection since they are not impacted by lighting conditions and are in turn able to detect objects hundreds of feet away even in complete darkness. For infrastructure monitoring they are able to monitor large machines or transformers and trigger an alarm before they overheat. The most likely turning point for thermals will be when prices decrease to a more affordable range. Two other factors that could cause thermal cameras to take off are: if resolution increases; or if dual cameras with both thermal and visual sensors became more cost effective.

Another potential trend (though currently very unpopular) are wireless cameras. Wireless cameras have never had a good reputation, but on paper they are a great idea. They reduce installation costs and in some cases make an installation possible where running wires is not an option. In the case of wireless cameras, cost is not the issue as much as reliability and security. Standard Wi-Fi is not secure enough for commercial security systems, nor is it stable enough. Advancements in both areas will ultimately lead to wireless IP cameras becoming a hot trend that may seriously impact the long-term success of HD over coax. There are countless ways wireless cameras would change the surveillance industry but only if they are secure and reliable.

Edge recording is still a very interesting technology that I have addressed before in previous columns. Manufacturers are divided on how it should be done, which is similar to how analytics was treated several years ago. The industry is questioning if SD cards are really a reliable storage technology. While they are cheap and easy to implement, SD cards do not offer the long-term stability of other storage methods. Hard disk drives consume too much space and power when installed in a camera housing, while solid state drives (SSD) are simply too expensive. The most likely turning point for edge storage will be when SSD costs come down to a more affordable level. In the meantime this will remain a controvertible technology rather than a trend every manufacturer is fighting to perfect.


Determining factors
It is always nice to see an old technology persist through years of evolution before it suddenly takes off and becomes the trend everyone is talking about. In the last few years we have seen multi-imagers and video analytics explode in popularity. By analyzing what caused these products to suddenly take off, we can determine what other products have bright futures ahead of them. Thermal cameras, wireless cameras, and edge storage are all products with obvious advantages. All three are being held back by challenges such as cost and quality that will eventually be overcome. For these products to become an industry-wide trend is not a question of if, but when.  

Colin Bodbyl is the director of technology for UCIT Online (www.ucitonline.com).

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