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High def video surveillance standard launched

Posted: 18 Jun 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:surveillance systems  IP camera  Internet Protocol  HD-SDI 

A handful of chip and systems companies are launching a new standard for high definition surveillance systems. Backers hope the HDcctv Alliance provides an easier, cheaper alternative to systems based on Internet Protocol.

The group has unveiled a version 0.9 specification and a call for members. It aims to deliver cameras based on a final 1.0 version spec in September and full systems by early next year.

The standard essentially defines a handshake protocol for communicating information about video resolution and frame rates over an HD-SDI link. The group aims to define future versions of the spec that support bi-directional audio and power over the HD-SDI cabling.

Todd Rockoff, executive chairman of the HDcctv Alliance, claims the group's technology will be cheaper to install and easier to use for companies with existing systems. It will compete with two industry consortia promoting different flavours of IP-based surveillance camera networks, the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) and the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA).

"The market has been slow to adopt megapixel IP cameras," said Rockoff, estimating only ten per cent of the market for security-camera networks has shifted to IP. "But the alliance is not anti-IP because IP is the right way to do the back haul to off-site video storage or big analytic systems somewhere," he added.

John Honovich, analyst and founder of the IP Video Market Info Web site, estimated IP-based systems now account for at least 20 per cent of installed systems. He projected such systems would command half the market within five years.

"It's looking a lot like the transition to voice over IP in the telephony market," he said.

Honovich took a wait-and-see stance on the HDcctv approach in a posting on his Web site.

"It could be a powerful force that stems the growth of IP cameras or it could be a last ditch effort by analogue providers that goes nowhere," he wrote. "It all depends on how well it can work and how well analogue manufacturers can join forces together," he added.

So far the HDcctv effort has only attracted four relatively small players—Gennum, the maker of HD-DSI chips; Stretch, a video codec start-up; Ovii, a camera maker and EverFocus, a Taiwan security system ODM and Rockoff's former employer.

Missing from the list are some of the top tier names in security systems such as Bosch, GE, Honeywell, Panasonic and Sony. "They'll need to get them on board to be successful," said Honovich.

"We were not open for sign ups until now," said Rockoff. However, the HDcctv Web site and a related LinkedIn group have gotten expressions of interest from about 200 people he said, and "their corporate affiliations are all over the map including Intel and Google," Rockoff added.

Meanwhile the competing IP surveillance camera groups are battling it out. Honovich wrote in a Web analysis that ONVIF includes companies such as Axis and Sony that represent as much as 45 per cent of IP camera sales. The PSIA also includes big hitters such as Cisco Systems, GE, Honeywell and Panasonic although its members generally have a lower share of the IP camera market, he added.

Previously, IP cameras were the main alternative for companies looking for resolutions beyond those specified by standards such as NTSC, Rockoff said. But the IP systems add latency due to their use of compression and packet-based transmission, he added.

-Rick Merritt
EE Times

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