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: Frank De Fina, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Samsung Techwin America.
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?
De Fina: Innovating new technologies and implementing them go hand-in-hand. And the ability to further evolve innovations from different technology leaders is critical to the continued development of new and innovative system solutions.
What other ingredients are required for an innovative technology or product to make a real impact in the marketplace? Where do ingenuity and marketing savvy intersect?
De Fina: There are so many instances of innovation that didn’t gain traction simply because they were well kept secrets, or simply fell victim to a lack of a marketing strategy to bring them to market. It’s all too common that the engineering genius behind innovative products is responsible for marketing. This is especially true with small, independent ‘think tank’-type companies that specialize in niche technologies. Samsung is fortunate to have considerable R&D efforts continually developing and experimenting with future technologies across a multitude of product categories. We are also very open in our desire and efforts to cultivate technology partners that complement our core competencies and future direction.
Where it comes to innovation, who plays a larger and more critical role - the engineers or the end-user customers? How is that balance achieved?
De Fina: There is a balance between these two primary influencers. But we are increasingly seeing innovations developed that fulfill real-world longstanding issues, several of which had no previous practical solution. The development of these solutions is largely generated by user demand. Technology for technology’s sake simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Products need to deliver proof of performance with some form of tangible return on investment.
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?
De Fina: The adoption of the networked platform is perhaps the most significant technology innovation in the professional video surveillance industry in the past two decades. The ability to network system components with the promise of establishing true enterprise level integration is the future the industry continues to work towards achieving. Networked, integrated systems have literally changed the landscape of the industry. From a product perspective, the application of megapixel imaging technology for professional security applications is also very significant not only from the perspective of improving the detail of live and recorded images, but their ability to further facilitate the use of advanced analytics that require more visual data to function. Analytics are my third pick for top innovations as they greatly expand the functionality and utility of video surveillance systems beyond traditional applications, which continues to move us closer to enterprise level system solutions.
More specifically, which innovations hold the greatest upside and why?
De Fina: All professional applications will surely benefit long-term from the migration to a networked platform relative to performance, functionality, scalability, and integration capabilities. This also holds true for the megapixel cameras and analytics which can greatly improve overall security operations resulting from improved coverage capabilities and the ability to automatically detect potential problems. The consumer market will benefit from trickle down of networked system functionality derived for professional applications in the form of more advanced levels of security using video as the core technology to integrate with alarm and home automation systems.
What are one or two video surveillance innovations that failed to catch on and to what do you attribute their failings?
De Fina: Iris recognition systems deliver an almost failsafe means of identifying individuals and can be applied in a multitude of security applications, yet it has not been widely accepted for mainstream physical and IT security applications for a few key reasons. First is a misunderstanding of the technology which is often confused with iris scanning which is highly intrusive on individuals’ eyes. The fact is that iris recognition is not intrusive at all and even more effective. Another reason iris recognition has not been widely deployed is due to software licensing costs which priced it well beyond conventional access control devices such as proximity cards. However, there is a future for iris recognition as the root technology finds its way into devise such as smart phones and tablets for personal security. This will eventually bring down costs and reshape the revenue model that currently exists.
What are one or two innovative technologies from other fields you see migrating into the security surveillance space and why?
De Fina: Manufacturers and technology gurus used to throw the term “convergence” around all the time then it fell out of favor in lieu of “integration.” But I feel there is still a great deal of convergence to take place involving various technologies. Mobile surveillance is a prime example. With so many ways for individuals to capture and transmit HD video — virtually from any phone available today — the next evolution is clearly to use this technology to transmit live streaming video. This would provide security and law enforcement professionals with a powerful tool for emergency deployment and public safety.
How will the trend toward standards, open platforms and interoperability affect innovating video surveillance solutions?
De Fina: The industry continues to move closer to establishing standards that will allow more manufacturers to provide products that operate on a truly open platform, but we still have a way to go. When this is accomplished, system designers will have a much greater palette of security devices and solutions they can integrate into systems which will increase security and safety overall.
What are three to five recommendations or tips you would offer an installing security dealer or integrator looking to become entrenched and grow their video surveillance business?
De Fina: First is to stay informed and educated on new developments pertaining to networked systems and integration as this is the now and future of video surveillance. Second is to establish relationships with manufacturers and technology providers that are leading the evolution of IP technologies as they can provide invaluable support that will help elevate the level of technical services their companies offer. Third is look to expand the reach of your business by developing solutions based on specific vertical markets as they provide added value based on expertise. Fourth is to position video surveillance not just as a security tool, but as a business tool as there are many applications across various markets where video can assist with various operations. A few good examples include process management, pedestrian and vehicular trafficking, and retail merchandising.