The next big thing, cloud assisted analytics?

In terms of innovation, the video surveillance industry appears to have been treading water for the last 18 months, possibily as a side effect of the turbulent economic climate. At the recent ASIS trade show, the two buzzwords were VSaaS and PSIM and whilst both trends are important to the future of the industry, neither are particularly new. So what will be the next big innovation in the video surveillance industry?
By Gary Wong, Senior Analyst, Video Surveillance and VCA, IMS Research October 12, 2011

IMS research: excellence in market intelligneceIn my last few blog posts I have voiced my opinion that there was nothing really new on display at recent tradeshows. This sentiment seems to be shared amongst many of the tradeshow attendees and exhibitors that I have spoken to. In terms of innovation, the video surveillance industry appears to have been treading water for the last 18 months, possibily as a side effect of the turbulent economic climate. At the recent ASIS trade show, the two buzzwords were VSaaS and PSIM and whilst both trends are important to the future of the industry, neither are particularly new.

So what will be the next big innovation in the video surveillance industry?

The video surveillance market is influenced (albeit very slowly) by developments in the  consumer electronics industry. H.264 compression, HD resolution and cloud storage are testament to that. So it would not be beyond reason to look at the current hot trends in the consumer electronics market and predict the next big thing for the security market.

Well, in the last few weeks, two consumer product announcements have caught my eye: the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Apple iPhone 4S. Whilst both items are lustworthy, it is the function rather than form that most interests me. More specifically a web browser and a voice recognition application.

Amazon’s Silk browser is (probably) the world’s first browser that is cloud accelerated. In an effort to speed up loading of media-rich websites, a portion of the rendering, the “heavy lifting”, is performed in the cloud. The end result is faster loading webpages and less powerful (and thus lower cost) edge devices.

As for the iPhone 4S, the key feature announced was Siri, a natural language personal assistant. Whilst voice control is definitely not a new concept, Siri appear to be light-years ahead on any other commercially available product (i.e. it actually works). One of the key reasons as to why it works so well is because, again, some of the “heavy lifting” is done in the cloud.

“How does this apply to the video surveillance industry?”

Well, Video Content Analytics (VCA) would seem like a good fit. Why not leverage the power sitting in the cloud (e.g. Windows Azure, Amazon EC2, etc.)? There are obviously technical hurdles that need to be overcome (e.g What/how much data needs to be sent to the cloud?) but the savings and performance gains could be significant. Also this could allow end-users to shift from an cap-ex model to an op-ex model; instead of investing in high powered edge devices and powerful, yet depreciating, servers for local analytics, the workload could be offloaded to the cloud. Adopting the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) approach would also allow analytics companies to find the security holy grail, RMR.

It is unlikely that we will see this kind of product reach the mainstream security market anytime soon but a few companies are beginning to take baby steps in this direction. In conclusion, this analyst believes that leveraging the power of the cloud (beyond just storage) will be the next major technological breakthrough for the video surveillance industry.