IC Realtime Video Search Gets Google-Like Treatment

Ella is said to be first the Cloud-based, deep-learning engine that augments video surveillance systems with natural language search capabilities.

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based IC Realtime has been a leading provider of video surveillance products and services particularly within the residential A/V and automation dealer (CEDIA) channel. Earlier this year the company unveiled its Ella platform designed to expedite video search capabilities, much like an Internet search engine.

Originally chatting with SSI sister publication CE Pro, CEO Matt Sailor joins the conversation to provide more about the technology behind and applications for Ella.

Can you tell us about the technology behind the Ella deep-learning engine?

Ella is the first Cloud-based deep-learning engine that augments video surveillance systems with natural language search capabilities … to recognize objects, colors, vehicles, people, animals, alphanumeric characters, and more. At its core, Ella makes every nanosecond of video searchable instantly, allowing users use a search bar interface, very similar to running a standard Internet search, to run a query for exactly what they’re looking for.

Part of what makes Ella special is the system’s ability to learn what each individual user cares most about over time and then only report back on those types of occurrences. For example, the system is intelligent enough to distinguish that Monday through Friday at 3:30 p.m., a yellow bus approaches my house, stops, and that people get off the bus. Ella recognizes that as a pattern and reports back to me to ask if I think this occurrence or event is “interesting.”

I confirm that it is and can even label it within the system as “kids home from school” and Ella will automatically begin including that video clip in my daily digest because it’s learned it is an event I care about tracking.

To save on bandwidth, Ella deploys interest-based compression which only records events in high-definition deemed “interesting” by the AI [artificial intelligence] engine. Finally, Ella is a brand-agnostic solution. IC Realtime is making a pivot to a more omniplatform business and we wanted to create a software solution that could work on any security hardware.

What are the applications/benefits for Ella?

Applications for Ella are almost limitless — from augmenting commercial or business security to giving homeowners a powerful tool to help them monitor and keep track of things at home. The average surveillance camera only captures two minutes of relevant footage each day but when it comes time to review or share that footage, users often spend hours sorting and scrubbing through footage to find the clips they need.

In the scenario where an event has taken place over the weekend or while personnel is away, it could take even longer to sort through days of footage in real-time.

One aspect of time savings our industry does not often think about has to do with what happens after users find the needed footage. In the past, sharing data with others or even local authorities has been an arduous process but critical to finding criminal activity.

With Ella, sharing relevant footage is straightforward — a simple share button creates a tokenized link to that specific clip that if shared, only grants those you’ve shared the link with access to that one specific clip.

One benefit that’s specific to integrators is the ability to use Ella as a direct path to RMR. Due to the brand agnostic design of the system, integrators can use Ella as an easy upgrade for existing customers or projects or as a tool to bring on new business by visiting jobs they may have missed the initial bid on.

Do you see Ella has a primarily commercial application versus residential?

The environment where we see Ella providing the greatest benefit is commercial; however, the solution is not strictly commercial nor residential — it can be used in both environments as well as a number of additional ones.

While the majority of impact a solution like Ella can provide relies on commercial installations, it’s often end users that drive new technologies into the industry because there is a demand and a need. 

How does a hardware manufacturer like IC Realtime transition into software development?

Google handles roughly 80%-85% of the world’s Internet searches and we asked, if we can search the entirety of the Internet for what we’re looking in under a second, why can’t the same be done for video? That’s why we partnered with technology firm Camio and jointly produced Ella as the exclusive solution for the security industry that can be used to fill that void.

While Ella marks a paradigm shift in the way we search for video events, it’s a software offering that is complementary to not only our own hardware offerings, but the hardware offerings of the entire industry.

We view Ella as an additional piece to the puzzle and a solution that leverages AI and machine learning to make surveillance even more powerful and useful. As a software solution, we will continue to develop Ella and introduce additional features in tandem with new hardware offerings from IC Realtime.

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