IP Video’s oldest
and largest player, Axis Communications, has built its success on a commitment
to R&D, a commitment that’s underscored by a sprawling product list. Every
year or so the company shakes out the tablecloth and serves up another
mouth-watering spread of surveillance kit.

It goes without
saying that 2010 is no different and this year Axis is offering a complete,
IP-based mobile video surveillance solution consisting of a new series of
network cameras and a network video recorder for use in buses, trains, subway
cars and emergency vehicles.

These cameras
include the AXIS M31-R Network Camera Series and the sweet, new AXIS Q8108-R
Network Video Recorder. The 8108-R is a major release and it’s typically robust
Axis gear. Not surprisingly, the numbers look great.

According to Axis
Communications country manager for Australia, Wai King Wong, the new machine is
an 8-port PoE mobile recorder with a USB port for downloads, options for GPS
and wireless, and an accelerometer. This feature records times and places of
threshold incidents involving acceleration and braking for later review.

Other smart
features include a software development kit that allows end users to do their
own development of neat things like people counters, as well as to facilitate camera
activation when carriage or vehicle doors open and close. The SDK is open-ended
and allows operation in a manner that supports any given application.

I get a look at
the new Axis gear in Sydney, and half a dozen cameras and the 8108-R have been
set up to play with. It’s instructive to be able to challenge these cameras
with backlight and flare, as well as to see how they function when light levels
suddenly drop.

It’s also good to
get hold of the 8108-R. Right from the get-go it’s clear that this chunky mobile
NVR is as good as all Axis’ best gear. The 8108r has a great feel to it and the
build quality is superb. The case is a heat sink and there are no fans so as to
reduce moving parts – the only point of wear being the twin replaceable hard
drives.

According to
Axis’ Wai King Wong, the 8108-R is designed for serious mobile applications and
has been built with survivability and ruggedness in mind. It has shock-proofing
and EN compliance.

“It’s a very neat
unit, as well as being very robust – it’s rated to IP65 so it’s splash-proof
and dust-proof. It has battery backup to handle power loss and auto-shutdown if
the temperature gets too high,” Wong says.

“In terms of
storage capacity, the unit has 2 drive bays and a flash drive as well and it
comes with Axis Camera Station software or it can be integrated into the
management platform of your choice. In fact, you can install any software you
desire.

According to
Wong, the unit supports the M31-R cameras via M12 connectors or RJ45s, with buses
typically employing RJs and trains using M12 connectors. There’s also support
for wireless comms, which allows downloads to wireless nodes at a depot or
maintenance station.

“Also new for
2010 is a re-designed range of fixed M31-R cameras that are rated to IP66 and
designed to be installed in mobile applications with the Q8108-R,” Wong says. “They
are slightly thicker than the former models but otherwise very simple to
install.

“All have H.264
compression and the big difference is this – they are HD 720p megapixel (SMPTE
compliant) – and allow real time streaming and real time monitoring at HD
resolution.”

Wong says the
cameras are IP66 so in terms of washing and cleaning there will be no problems
as the cameras are fully sealed and designed so the electronic components are protected.

“It’s a very neat
unit, as well as being very robust – it’s rated to IP65 so it’s splash-proof
and dust-proof. It has battery backup to handle power loss and auto-shutdown if
the temperature gets too high”

“As you’d expect
for devices used in public transport, anti-tampering is standard,” he says. “One
of the other new things we have implemented is a way to install the lenses more
simply. The new setup involves a twist and a turn. It’s much simpler and allows
easy use of all our lens options from 2.8mm all the way to 16mm.”

“The new cameras
also have the capability to handle different mounting angles in order to handle
the angled bulkheads and mouldings you find in trams, trains and buses. This makes
it easier to install the cameras on curved surfaces. Again, PoE is standard, as
are RJ45 and M12 connection options.”

These cameras are
designed for use in variable lighting conditions, which is important in trains
and light rail systems where carriages often pass through tunnels. Because
we’ve got these cameras in our hands it’s a perfect opportunity to try and lull
them into submission by putting our hands over the lenses or hiding them in the
shadows under the table. No matter what we do the Axis cameras handle it –
there is some smart software going on here.

“All our cameras
are HDTV and the recorders record HDTV in real time – not many recorders on the
market can handle this,” Wong continues. “We’ve also worked on simplicity of
installation and in terms of a complete system it’s a matter of installing the 8108,
running power, running PoE to the cameras, and then setting up the 8108 and you
are away.

“In terms of
getting images off the recorder, when the bus is taken back to the depot,
incidents can be uploaded off the recorder over a wireless LAN from a wireless
node in the bus depot. You program the system to handle what is uploaded
depending on the bandwidth the system has available.”

And there’s more

Along with this
gear, Axis has also announce a new series of outdoor-ready, high-performance
fixed network cameras that save installation time and costs. The IP66-rated
outdoor-ready cameras offer protection against dust, rain, snow and sun, and
are PoE for easy installation.

The outdoor-ready
cameras, including megapixel/HDTV models, deliver strong image quality and
support multiple streams in H.264 and Motion JPEG, two-way audio, and intelligent
video functionalities such as video motion detection, audio detection and
active tampering alarm. They also have built-in SD/SDHC memory card slot for
storing recordings locally. The cameras consist of the following: AXIS P1343-E
Network Camera, AXIS P1344-E Network Camera, AXIS P1346-E Network Camera, AXIS
Q1755-E Network Camera.

“We are also now
offering the M32 camera which is basically a dome camera, same as the P and Q series,
but more affordable. We have 4 versions, the 3204 is the 720p HD and the D is
for vandal-resistant,” says Wong. “Prices are getting closer to analogue –
within a few hundred dollars.”

While we are
looking at the new Axis products there’s time to play with the world’s most
affordable thermal camera. The outdoor version is IP66 and it’s PoE and managed
by standard Axis software. In real life the AXIS Q1910-E does a great job and
it’s so sensitive you can see footprints on the ground after a person has
walked by.

Using thermal is a fit-for-purpose issue. If you
need to detect the presence of intruders at long range at night or through
foliage without identification, then thermal is the perfect tool. Range is 200
metres for a person and 500m for a car.