• United States



Toolbox: ObjectVideo, Pyramid Vision Technologies, Anixter

Mar 01, 20033 mins
Physical Security

Three steps forward for video surveillance

Visitors to the United Kingdom often comment on the prevalence of surveillance cameras “over there.” The United States is playing catch-up in that area, which of course has privacy wonks in a lather. For those charged with catching (or deterring) crime through picture-taking, a number of new products advance the state of the art.Cleaner CablingSimpler is always better, right? Traditional closed-circuit video cameras require three cables: one for power, one for the video, and one for the controls that move and aim the camera. Anixter has now created Closed-Circuit Twisted Pair (CCTP) video, which runs all three over a single high-performance cable. The resulting system is not only simpler but also compatible with standard IP-based networks, which means it’s easier to connect the surveillance system to existing corporate networks, if need be.

Anixter is quick to point out that the product is Underwriter Laboratories-certified, so that running power over the network won’t blow it up or start a firewhich is one mark of a good system in our book.

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-Derek SlaterSmarter VideoSpeaking of IP-based surveillance, ObjectVideo is hoping to help such systems smarten up. The company’s product, Video Early Warning, attempts to remove the single greatest headache that motion detection video has produced: false positives.

The company does that by using object-based technology to create thresholds on a reasonably static surveillance image. For example, if there’s a door in the frame, the user can create a rule that tells the system to ignore motion unless it crosses the threshold of the door. A camera fixed on an outdoor perimeter will ignore birds that fly through the frame but pick up on a lingering boat. The software also picks up on a change of state. A bag that suddenly becomes stationary at an airport, for example, could sound an alarm. Or a piece of art that never moves suddenly moves, and the alarms go off.

CSOs, though, will likely embrace the post-event capabilities more than anything. Archived, highly compressed video is stored in a database, making retrieval of relevant frames a basic database query.

As smart as that sounds, ObjectVideo says the technology is evolving so rapidly, it will get even smarter soon. At any rate, it appears the days of a drowsy security guard lording over tiny black-and-white closed-circuit TVs are fading, fast.

-Scott BerinatoFrame EnhancementVideoDetective, made by Pyramid Vision Technologies, is a briefcase-size unit that can be used to enhance low-quality video images by culling and compositing details from several different frames. Sample usage: Convenience-store holdups are frequently recorded on security cameras, but over-used VCR tapes, poor lighting and obstructed views often make the video virtually useless in identifying the thief. With VideoDetective, which can plug into a squad car cigarette lighter, police on the scene can immediately review the tape and select the frames with the best view of the perp; the unit can then automatically clarify those images with additional details from surrounding film frames, then print color copies for distribution to possible witnesses or other local law enforcement.

It ain’t cheapcosting on the order of $50,000, according to one customerso although crime doesn’t pay, video enhancement surely must. Find more details at