Our Technological Hydra
Electronic security has always been an industry that combines multifarious technologies in thrilling ways.
Our solutions touch on sensing technologies, local and remote communications, optics, displays, storage solutions, thermal sensing, networking pathways, identification technologies, software analytics, power supplies, software management solutions, firmware development and a hundred splintered specialities in between.
In some ways nothing has changed – security technology continues groping for some modular approximation of machine intelligence – for the tireless watcher on the walls. In the past though, technologies moved towards their ultimate capabilities independently. But things are starting to change and we’re seeing far more integration than in the past.
Even within niches, multiple technological breakthroughs are crashing through old barriers simultaneously, in a swirl of industry alliances. And over-arching these changes are local and remote management solutions driven by the demands and contributions of symbiotic communities of manufacturers and users.
Alarm panels are the perfect example. In a short space of time they’ve gone from blind solid state boards reporting NO or NC alarm events in DTMF tones, to devices integrating non-proprietary Zigbee and Z-wave automation, door control, multiple sensing technologies, supporting video verification and allowing authorised users to manage domestic sub systems remotely via smart applications. This development extends into the monitoring space, with expectations in a state of upheaval. Locally there are even whispers of police attending video-verified alarm events. That would represent a huge change in perceived system value.
In the field, detectors combine dual technology or triple technology, or even mesh sensing, and can incorporate 720p HD fixed lens cameras supported by integrated LED lighting. Some of this power is referred – smart phones and tablets do the real grunt work when it comes to remote management of security solutions – but the fact the concept of an alarm system has extended to mobile smart devices is indicative of the lateral developments taking place in the alarms industry.
There are also projections of future development to consider. It’s hard to imagine that the relatively low quality cameras in today’s alarm sensors won’t give way to industry standard cameras with wide angle or hemispheric lenses. My opinion is that this suggests these first combinations of security technology are a toe in the water, with all the serious development still ahead of us.
There seem to be 2 paths by which manufacturers find niches in the electronic security market. One is to make products that are very cheap and the other is to make products that are very smart. The high end solutions are yet to come but come they will. Remember, Google Nest sells a cloud-integrated smoke sensor for $200. This shows customers will pay a premium not for base function but for sexy technology. At some point in time, one of our alarm manufacturers is going to mirror the wow factor achieved by consumer developers with a serious security and automation solution.
The key to this discussion though, is that the pace of change and the melding of technology in the alarms market is nothing more than a reflection of what we are seeing across the entire spectrum of security electronics. There’s a process of technological integration taking place the likes of which the industry has never seen.
Every aspect of our technology is developing closer to its greatest potential and far from being locked in proprietary towers, it’s being integrated across the engine of the new millenia's revolutionary social substrate.
Whether it relates to changes in manufacturing processes or is an emergent property of the hive mind – a lateralisation of technological conception fed by the shared neural workspace of the Internet – is hard to say. But something is different in security electronics, everywhere, all at once.
By John Adams