ISD’s Ian Johnston said the company’s development team sprinted to market with its Microsoft Chelan - Windows Embedded Compact 7 - camera, a solution it knows will change the world. Time will tell if this observation is correct but it’s hard to dispute the attraction of a camera that will run on Microsoft Windows for some users. Personally, I think the attraction is going to be greatest outside the security industry, at least in the short term.
Chelan was released early in 2011 and it’s actually a tablet operating system designed to drive demanding stuff like smart phones, industrial automation gear, as well as tablets and slates. According to Microsoft, Win7 Compact is a consumption device rather than a creation device like full Win7. What this means is that it allows access to services and its own functions, rather than running demanding creative software applications. Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of creativity in Chelan.
I think we’d all agree that for a long time there’s been a divide between most security integrators and the IT function. It would be a mistake to suggest this division has been industry-wide because the best security integrators are eating IT for breakfast but for many installers handling stuff like IP addresses and port forwards is still a bit much.
The response to this resistance has come from all directions. We’ve seen some distributors supplying systems that are entirely pre-commissioned (think Pacom and Lan1), and we’ve seen manufacturers and distributors simplifying IP solutions significantly.
In fact, so significant is this change that some companies – I’m thinking about the new Mobotix mobile application here – are suggesting that in a couple of years the primary method of managing cameras will be via powerful pieces of mobile software. And Mobotix is talking about getting into alarms and access control, with these elements of its solutions also set to be managed using iOS.
And it’s not just Mobotix. Honeywell’s Tuxedo Touch, which we review in this issue, not only converts Honeywell Vista panels into automation and surveillance solutions, it’s a mobile gateway for all the functionality of Vista and Tuxedo. Individual cameras are also increasingly accessible via web browser with no need for a software management system. Sure, there are limitations to this sort of viewing but there are possibilities, too.
For a start, they suggest it’s still a hybrid industry when it comes to video surveillance. A number of the leading camera manufacturers have released new analogue offerings recently. We’re meant to meet the pivot point for IP video in 2013 but the market is an oddly diverse beast.
Servers at the edge. Yes – those microSD slots on IP cameras can now be loaded with 128GB chips costing around $200 and chip prices are likely to fall by 25 per cent through 2013. When you consider the cost of rack-mount servers, edge storage becomes an appealing option.
Touch screen alarm interfaces. Almost every manufacturer has one and in some cases they cost less than $100. Installers not upselling touch screens to end users simply aren’t trying hard enough.
There are plenty of products and technological platforms about just now – PSIM, VSAAS, the ethereal realm of cloud, even edge solutions and very large megapixel cameras - that it could be argued are at various stages of the so-called hype cycle. In the hype cycle, products or technologies are released to great fanfare and make early headway then, as the challenges of implementing them successfully becomes widely known, sales slow before steadily increasing as early adopters find success with their systems and supporting technologies catch up.
It’s worth pointing out that the hype cycle is not an objectively measurable phenomenon. It’s more a conceptualisation of the process a ground-breaking product goes through between its first ‘appearance’ as vapourware on the lips of marketing types with access to engineers and the time it becomes an industry icon. And as we all know, this process can take many years.
Some of the coat hangers on which Memoori is hanging its positivity pitch look a little bent to me – well – perhaps not bent but certainly green. VSAAS and MVAAS are, to my mind, future tech and too dependent on infrastructure that doesn’t yet exist to be relied on to really drive meaningful growth in the short term. They are future revenue streams for someone but it’s uncertain which someone just yet.
Meanwhile, PSIM is an area of real growth but budget constraints have pushed its application to the upper levels. Advanced tech companies and educational institutions are most likely to embrace PSIM in the short term. The report also plays up China’s role in future growth. That nation has only about one 6th the security penetration of the U.S. so there’s organic growth aplenty. Whether or not that growth will accrue to local Chinese manufacturers or global makers is another question.
Q: What’s your sense of the market at the moment, JB? Asia is generally considered to be doing better than Europe and the U.S. and the Australian economy, while doing better, remains patchy.
A: I would say the market is going through a difficult time. There is a slowdown in the global economy. If you look at India for example (I was there a couple of weeks ago), we are looking at a GDP growth rate that’s the lowest in 9 years. So when you look at macroeconomic data the global economy is slowing down. In Australia we see a 2-tier economy – we have mining and resources which are growing and the rest of the economy is flat so I think the economic situation is difficult. In such an environment success is about innovating in order to stay ahead of the competition. That’s where we are at.
WIRED paths are physical and demand a physical conduit, be that a tray, a trench, a bore or pole mounting. And these physical paths are costly and time consuming to construct. On private sites these costs are significant, in public spaces they can be prohibitive, with the result that surveillance solutions often wind up with design compromises forced upon them by the expense of trenching, or by the need to conform themselves to existing systems of pits and trenches owned by utilities or public authorities.
In some applications, trenching and boring might cost more than the installation of cameras, recording devices and management software combined. Given this, it’s been instructive this month to notice a couple of public surveillance solutions that have used a different communications path to build systems that are robust, reliable and low cost. That path is wireless.
Not long ago it took years for a new product to be released and one of the great strengths of many solutions lay in their longevity, their fixity. Installers came to know products, end users came to trust them. But these are changing times and as the competition heats up between suppliers, R&D engineers are working feverishly to gain a leg up on their competition.
There’s no chance whatever that you could release a solution and not modify its capability for 2 or 3 years and expect to retain market share. In fact, so fast has change become in some market sectors that manufacturers are not so much upgrading existing product as they are playing leapfrog with new releases, pitching finely tuned solutions at specific areas of the market almost as quickly as a need is identified.
Genetec’s founder, CEO and president, Pierre Razc, combines piercing vision with instinctive team spirit and an appreciation of the things money can’t buy. A devout trekkie with a deep love of the possibilities of clever technology, Razc is committed to lateral integration and has a comprehension of the core nature of his products rare in a CEO. He speaks with SEN editor, John Adams
Q: Genetec has had enormous growth over an extended period of time – is that year-on-year growth still continuing?
A: Yes it is. Last year we did 33 per cent growth globally, in the Americas our growth was phenomenal – more than 50 per cent growth. Our planning projects that we will sustain 30 per cent growth for the next 3 years. The world’s hunger for software is insatiable.
Q: What do you credit with the company’s endless success?