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4K as a solution

Sales from Arlo, Nest and other standalone network video-surveillance cameras reached $966 million globally in 2017 and are estimated to grow to $1.1 billion by the end of 2018, according to IHS Markit, the US-based market analysts. The United States was by far the largest country for these camera types, representing about 48 percent of unit shipments in 2017.

Blake Kozak, principal analyst, smart home and security technology at IHS, said: “Acceptance of video surveillance for the home has grown, in part because people now have more control over their surveillance systems. Users of network systems can log in and view footage using their smartphones, share clips via social media or speak to their families through two-way audio-enabled cameras. Cameras are becoming a gateway into the home, expanding their use beyond just security.”

Trends creating change in consumer video cameras include improvements in camera resolution and the transition to 4K, analytics and battery-powered cameras. Globally, fewer than 1 percent of standalone network cameras in 2017 were capable of 4K resolution or above; while around 20 percent will possess this capability by 2022, it’s forecast. For 2018, 720 pixels or lower is forecast to be the most popular resolution, comprising near half, 48 percent of cameras.

Kozak said: “Camera resolution remains one of the most important measures that vendors use to convey the quality of their products to end-users. It is a feature consumers understand and are familiar with, due to past experiences purchasing televisions, personal computer monitors, smartphones and other consumer devices.”

Most vendors now promote 4K as a solution for wide-area surveillance, claiming fewer cameras can be used to cover the same area. In fact, a digitally zoomed image from a 4K camera is still a 2-megapixel image. This resolution provides a much more usable degradation of resolution quality than high-definition (HD) footage, where digital zooming quickly reduces the image quality below video graphics array (VGA) resolution.

Higher-quality footage also allows for more analytics. Two of the biggest barriers to adoption of 4K standalone security cameras are storage capacity and bandwidth. Storage capacities required for 4K footage can also be quadrupled, compared to storing HD footage, which with bandwidth raises the cost of 4K cameras. 4K cameras, which have roughly four times the resolution of HD cameras, also require four times the bandwidth, which means recording and management servers and software could also require upgrading to cope with the demands of managing multiple 4K streams.

Video analytics software can analyse live or recorded video streams to detect, classify and track predefined objects or behavioural patterns. It is used to automate the monitoring process and can identify events as they happen and extracting information from recorded video.

For years, the only way to deliver analytics to consumers in the video surveillance industry was by developing rules-based algorithms. Rules-based analytics rely on a structure of “if-this-then-that” commands, which are designed by developers to help the camera decide outcomes. These rules are fairly rigid by design and, as a result, these types of camera analytics are unable to solve problems they are not already programmed to encounter. However, rule-based analytics are still an excellent method for completing relatively simple tasks quickly and efficiently.

Deep learning, on the other hand, is a fast-growing field in artificial intelligence. It can enable computers to interpret large amounts of data; images, sound and text. Deep learning analytics have yet to arise in the consumer market as they are only just emerging in the security market. However, IHS Markit expects that as the adoption of cloud-based software services in the consumer industry develops and evolves, deep learning analytics are a natural next step.

Battery-powered cameras represented about 24 percent of standalone network cameras globally in 2017, which is expected to grow to 28 percent in 2022.

Kozak said: “The introduction of battery-powered cameras has changed the face of the consumer video surveillance industry dramatically over the past five years, as their flexibility and ease of installation has enabled wider adoption of security cameras in the residential sector. The success of these products has also raised general consumer awareness of home-surveillance systems. Battery life remains a key end-user concern, which is why suppliers are now offering swappable battery-pack accessories. When the camera battery life is running low, the user can simply detach the spent battery pack and immediately replace it with a fully charged replacement. This solution provides consumers with a clear and simplified battery management process.”


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