The July issue of SSI includes a far-reaching roundtable on the subject of video surveillance innovation featuring experts from eight industry-leading manufacturers. My discussions with each participant was more indepth than the confines of print would allow so here is another in a series of extended offerings. I encourage you to review each of them and compare and contrast how each subject views security video innovation, its ramifications, and innovation in general. Up this installment: Willem Ryan, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Bosch Security Systems.
The word “innovation” gets used and abused a lot; what does it really mean to you?
Ryan: There are different types of innovation, but overall, it is the act of creating or introducing something new or different than what is available on the market today — whether that is a product, a concept or a new method for approaching a particular task like system design. In some cases, it can also mean taking something existing and improving it in a unique and useful way. For manufacturers, it means being a leader in research and development; something Bosch is committed to. Last year, the Bosch Group spent $6.1 billion in R&D; that’s more than 9% of sales. And, globally, Bosch associates applied for 4,800 patents in 2012. This is a very strong foundation for innovation.
Innovation does not necessarily equate with success. Is it important to be innovative or can it be just as advantageous to apply business smarts to someone else’s concepts?
Ryan: Innovation in its pure sense is important as it lays the groundwork to move the market and industry forward. Take an example from history. Einstein postulated certain principles that were unable to be proven during his lifetime. Yet, some principles later became pivotal in establishing certain theories of physics. His innovative thinking set the groundwork for modern-day physics. Now apply this to manufacturers today. An innovative technology may not see mass market adoption in its infancy, but in 10 or 20 years, it may be mainstream. There is a need for manufacturers to invest the R&D to create the initial concept or technology. The costs can be high, and they’ll have to create the market, but there can be immense benefits to the brand when the technology is accepted.
How can a supplier avoid innovation giving way to commoditization? How can margins be maintained such that profits can help sustain further R&D?
Ryan: Commoditization is never completely avoidable, unless the technology or item being introduced is very rare. Once a technology becomes mainstream, it eventually is commoditized. Getting in on the beginning of a technology’s lifecycle allows the supplier to benefit from higher margins before commoditization sets in. And, continuing to enhance and improve the technology helps to maintain higher margins for a longer period of time.
What are the three latest and greatest innovations you have seen in the video surveillance space and what do you like about them so much?
Ryan: 4K Ultra HD technology is one of the latest innovations that will hit our market soon. This industry currently has access only to high resolution/high pixel cameras without any standards around them. 4K imaging is eight-megapixel resolution that conforms to the SMPTE HD standard. It gives us the best of both worlds — increased resolution and frames per second in the HD standard that everyone knows and trusts. Analytics have also become more powerful, more cost-effective and easier to use. It’s available at the edge already embedded in IP cameras and encoders, and we’ve improved the performance and value by listening to the market and continuing to improve its capabilities. Advancements in bandwidth control have helped increase the proliferation of HD and megapixel cameras. Customers can now deploy high resolution cameras but control their bandwidth consumption, and there’s a number of ways to do that. Dynamic transcoding technology provides high resolution image playback within limited network connections. Intelligent dynamic noise reduction analyzes the contents of a scene to reduce bandwidth and improve compression efficiency, and encoding regions allow uninteresting areas to be highly compressed while important areas are tuned for best image quality. This allows the user to allocate bandwidth to the most important parts of the scene.
More specifically, which innovations hold the greatest upside for the 1) commercial; 2) industrial; and 3) residential markets and why?
Ryan: For commercial, the accelerated integration of all devices for access control, video, intrusion and fire enables intelligent systems that feed off each other in terms of alerts. Video is becoming more open to integrating to all types of systems, and this enables cameras to be used for purposes well beyond security. Video becomes another point of data for marketing or business intelligence, which gives cameras a business value and revenue generating potential. For industrial, surveillance equipment brings improvements to process monitoring where video is used as a verification tool for processes and for safety alerts or concerns. Intelligent devices can also help users anticipate potential threats to safety. All of this requires tough devices that can survive the elements in industrial environments. In residential, cameras with onboard storage via SDHC or SDXC cards that can record up to 2TB of data as well as cloud-based recording takes away the need for large amounts of hardware in the household. This brings down the cost of the initial install while still giving the user the benefit of remote viewing of video via smartphones or tablets.
How will the trend toward standards, open platforms and interoperability affect innovating video surveillance solutions?
Ryan: ONVIF has been a huge step forward. Its impact has been seen in small ways to date, but it will completely change the industry in the long run. Standards will allow for more robust, complex systems to be created. And adoption of standards allows our industry to focus development efforts on more innovative features and technologies.
What are some recommendations or tips you would offer an installing security dealer or integrator looking to become entrenched and grow their video surveillance business?
Ryan: The industry is changing at a rapid pace and education is becoming increasingly important. Installing security dealers and integrators need to stay abreast of these changes by attending industry trainings and by joining groups where these technologies are discussed. Offering innovative technology alongside tried and true products will help them grow their business and strengthen their competitive edge.