It used to be that firmware on ROM, EPROM or flash memories of various kinds was the functional skeleton of a device and once installed it never changed for the entire lifespan of a device. No longer. The increasing power of hardware and processors means that serious improvements can be made by streamlining and polishing the operational code that ultimately constitutes a device’s technical horsepower virtually on the fly. 
Pretty obviously, not all programmed capabilities can be made available to users and installers, but within the bounds of ever larger operational possibilities, hardware is now able to be tweaked and focused in order to meet the demands of given applications. 3MP cameras can offer an enormous range of resolution capabilities, from D1 to 720p, 1080p or a full 3MP, with divisions of resolutions in between. 
Then there are encryption options which can be deployed simultaneously or selected on the basis of application. Image enhancement capabilities are also evolving endlessly and almost all of them are available for adjustment by installers or end users who take the time to venture beyond default. 
Along with accessible software development kits there are also now regular firmware upgrades, allowing R&D teams to extend the functional lives of products by continually extracting the best possible performance from existing hardware. This applies as much to access control as to CCTV. There’s no surprise that all this IT capability is beginning to be applied to electronic security solutions but it’s a thrill to recognise the possibilities. 
The broad standardization on 720p and 1080p camera technologies is a continuing change that was visible at the show – which of these ends up being the default is yet to be decided. Notwithstanding the excellent performance of some of the latest 720p cameras across a range of applications, I think we’ll see 1080p becoming the general default in our surveillance applications, but there’s a caveat. 
While releases like Panasonic’s brand new WV-SP509, the upcoming Sony 1080p HD camera, Sarix Surevison, Bosch Dinion HD, iMEGAPRO, VIVOTEK, Avigilon’s H3, all are either built as 1080p cameras or have 1080p settings, picking a perfect resolution remains a bit perilous, in my opinion. All the 1080p cameras have 720p settings and all the megapixel cameras have 1080p settings.   
To me the idea that for the first time in the industry’s history we’ll all settle down and be happy with a single fixed resolution is a misrepresentation of human nature. The challenges of managing megapixel video streams larger than the 2MP of 1080p notwithstanding, cameras will continue to improve, I think. H.264 compression has by no means been milked dry performance-wise and the next generation H.265 cameras will allow significantly larger video streams to be transmitted and stored. 
One of the curious things about the electronic security industry has been the back-rooming of alarm technology. I saw a few control panels at Security 2012 but it was telling that the most comprehensive range of controllers at the exhibition was arguably that of relative newcomer AlarmIP Australia. 
Given that alarm systems are the front line of any site’s defence against intrusion it’s a curious thing that perhaps reflects shrinking margin and ubiquity of function and operation. It’s been a long time since I’ve been blown away by a domestic alarm panel (DSC, I’m thinking of you) despite the fact there’s plenty of technological cross-pollination potential with surveillance, wireless access control, wireless automation and remote GSM panel control.  
As for access control, the enormous number of existing solutions, many of which are now due for an upgrade to truly bring them into the glow of the digital era guarantees local access control a bright future. I think there’s going to be a lot going on in the access control space over the next 12 months, with new releases and recent releases getting plenty of attention.