The clamor stirred up by reality-based television shows like “Survivor,” “Big Brother” and “The Mole” comes at a time when the security industry is experiencing its own Real TV craze. True, the images transmitted to remote CCTV monitors tend to be less entertaining than those beamed nightly into America’s living rooms, but they are also generally more important and undoubtedly more varied.
Suddenly, seemingly everything and anything—from employees on the job site to traffic on the freeway to patients in hospital rooms to visitors at a residence—can be viewed electronically, from practically anywhere. At the rate remote video monitoring is progressing, soon anyone will essentially be able to see through walls, much like Superman and his X-ray vision.
Rapid advances and dropping prices in transmission and equipment technology during the past few years, along with more user-friendly products and creative applications, have begun to rip the remote video market wide open. In the years to come, dealers who learn about and incorporate remote video into their service offerings will likely outlast the competition in security’s version of Survivor Island.
Remote Video Technology Takes Off in Giant Leaps
Two areas undergoing the greatest incremental technology advancements at the close of the 20th century have been computers and, largely due to the popularity of the Internet, data transmission methods. Both have helped hasten the development of remote video monitoring.
Products Improve as Prices Continually Plummet
From a consumer perspective, one of the wonderful things about the electronics industry is that the prices of products, especially ones that are embraced by the marketplace, typically drop swiftly and, often, dramatically. Cheaper unit manufacturing costs due to higher production volume and competing products from other manufacturers combine to result in additional features and lower prices.
Ease of Use Helps Speed Adoption of Equipment
It’s all well and good to have amazing technology at attractive prices, but the product must also be reasonable to use. Remote video equipment has gained in this area as well, with user-friendly devices and systems. Many of the latest products are digital, which helps expedite transmission and eliminate videotape.
Demand Trickling Down Across Many Markets
The upshot of technological advances, dropping prices and user-friendly equipment has been more widespread use of remote video monitoring. Initially, systems were almost exclusively the domain of large, commercial and industrial enterprises. However, increasingly, smaller businesses, and even upscale homeowners, are opting for the safety and versatility of remote video.
Dial-Up Remains Top Transmission Method
So, how exactly does an image before a camera in Boston show up on a screen in Los Angeles? According to Tom Landers, president and CEO of Hamilton Alarm Co. in Canton, Ohio, there are two types of remote video transmission systems.
The first (hardwire-based) consists of a receiver/modem at the customer’s location and a receiver/modem at the off-site monitoring location. The second (software-based) only requires a transmitter/modem at the customer’s location, with off-site monitoring accomplished by using a high-speed computer/modem.
Cameras Can Be Viewed By Event or Anytime
The reasons for having a remote video system installed are seemingly infinite. For a business, it could be to ensure the safety of employees as they walk to their cars after work. For a homeowner, it could be to keep an eye on the family pet from work. The universal thread is that they all involve placing cameras in key spots where the preservation of people, property or both is a concern. Remote video monitoring services can be classified into two broad categories: event-driven and nonevent-driven.
Uses Include Off-Site Managing, Positive ID
Many dealers are taking advantage of the virtually unlimited array of applications where remote video can be deployed, and astounding their customers in the process.
The capability of managing operations at a distance is a popular and emerging use of remote video.
Remote Video to Affect Industry, Walks of Life
The next few years are going to be extremely exciting for the remote video monitoring market. Technology will continue to improve, to the point where cameras will be able to relay images as clear, fluid and crisp as a high-definition television set. In addition, more and more applications, both wildly imaginative and functionally practical, will be realized.