Thursday, April 26, 2012

1984 is coming!

The “1984” I’m referring to is of course George Orwell’s novel depicting a world where Big Brother watches every citizen 24-7, and we seem to be getting awfully close to that reality. One point that Mr. Orwell seems to have overlooked though is the number of people required to monitor all those camera feeds. A totalitarian world such as he described would need more people watching video than actually appearing in front of the cameras, and then who would watch the watchers? Fortunately it was all just a dark fantasy.

Or it was until machine vision people started dabbling in surveillance and video analytics.

The April 2012 issue of Photonics Spectra has a great discussion of technology trends in these areas. “Connected and Smarter, Cameras Keep Watch” highlights how security is moving to put intelligence in “edge devices” and notes that “analytics [will be] done on the edge.”

I’m not entirely sure what “edge” the article means, though I think it refers to what we’d call smart cameras. In a nutshell, the point is that as camera resolutions go up bandwidth is becoming a constraint, the solution being to process images on the camera.

I think we’re all familiar with that problem, but it’s interesting to see how other industries are approaching it. Perhaps this is why the AIA is seeking to broaden its scope.

A couple of other trends noted in the article were:
  • Preference for CMOS rather than CCD sensors, due to lower power consumption and better low-light performance.
  • Growth in the video analytics market is projected at 10% for at least the next five years.
Having taken all this on-board, I now see why camera companies like Basler and AVT are making inroads in the surveillance market – it’s where the big growth is.

1984 is definitely coming.

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