Mills Technologies

Surveillance Cameras – Newer, Smarter

This article includes content from an article authored by Matt Sailor, CEO & President of IC Realtime 

Example of surveillance camera Deep Learning Search

A Deep Learning Search allows someone to find what they are looking for without having to search through hours of useless video footage. See link below for a demonstration of this technology.

When looking for a surveillance camera system, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the huge number of products available.  And, the confusing technical jargon that comes with them. Every brand claims to offer high resolution and night vision, and sorting through the claims can be confusing.  What many people don’t realize is that there is another class of surveillance camera that is available to the public. Though, they are not found in the big box and warehouse stores. These surveillance cameras are classified as “commercial-grade” surveillance cameras. They are the type of camera used by these big box chains to secure their inventory. Look at the ceiling of consumer electronics stores and warehouse chains and you will notice in each aisle a white dome camera that is larger than the average consumer camera. Let that sink in for a moment…these companies do not even use the type of surveillance cameras they are selling to the public, and there is a good reason why.

Commercial-Grade vs. Consumer-Grade Surveillance Cameras

As you just learned, there are two broad categories of surveillance cameras. What you generally find at stores are consumer-grade cameras. They usually come 8 or 16 cameras bundled with a video recorder. And they sell for less than a thousand dollars (US $). The second category of surveillance camera, commercial-grade, generally starts at about $400 (US) per camera– a significantly higher price. The video recorder must be purchased separately. Commercial grade recorders start at about $500 (US $). Ands, can range up to $5000 depending on the amount of storage, camera connectivity, and image processing features.
On the surface, these two camera categories may appear similar, though if you were able to see inside, the differences become obvious and distinct. Commercial-grade cameras are designed and built for high-performance applications where failure is not an option; consumer-grade cameras are not. Typically, consumer-grade surveillance cameras are built to work well when there is plenty of available light.  Once the lighting becomes low or absent (think sunset or nighttime), their pedigree begins to show. Commercial surveillance cameras outperform their cheaper cousins because they have larger internal video sensors and higher-quality components that can adapt and capture excellent low light video.

Deep Learning Search…Search Your Video Footage Nearly Instantly

Deep Learning is a new trend in surveillance video search technology that is quickly changing the security industry. What is Deep Learning and why is it so important? For starters, Deep Learning allows someone to find what they are looking for without having to search through hours of useless video footage. Imagine a webpage that works a lot like a Google search, where you can describe the elements you are looking for in the recorded video footage. For example, if we need to see all video from today that has a police car in it, we simply type “police” into the search window and in seconds every key frame of video with a police cruiser appears. It simply is magical compared to the way video once was searched by tediously scanning through hours of recording footage. If we are looking for any FedEx trucks that came by the house on Friday, we can instruct the deep learning search system to look for this. And get a result like shown in the picture near the top of this page. With deep learning video search, you now have a powerful solution for catching criminals and collecting evidence.
A great demonstration of currently-available “Deep Learning Search” technology can be found here: https://smartella.com/

Night Vision

Now let’s examine why consumer-grade surveillance cameras are often poor night vision performers. When a surveillance camera tries to see in the dark, it needs a light source to illuminate the area below it. Unfortunately, the night vision illuminators that come with consumer surveillance cameras are designed for short range only. And are of a fixed brightness. This means they typically over-expose what is nearby in a scene. This causes people and objects to appear “blown out” and without any detail. So much for trying to identify the bad guys. Commercial surveillance cameras are often equipped with more advanced night vision infrared (IR) illuminators. IR illuminators can adjust their brightness automatically to the scene. A feature called “Smart IR” matches the surveillance camera’s infrared light output to the scene. With Smart IR, the subjects appear properly exposed and in full detail. If a surveillance camera cannot capture and deliver a properly-exposed and sharp image during the day and at night, it has limited usefulness.

Remote Video Storage…a Growing Trend

With an Internet connection comes another game-changer that transforms how video is accessed and stored. This relatively new trend is referred to as cloud video storage. And what makes it so amazing is that now all video from your cameras can be uploaded to remote storage. Why does this matter? In the past, if bad guys broke into a home and took the family jewels there was always a risk that they could steal the security video recorder too. Which would be a real tragedy. No jewels and no video for the police to catch them. Though with cloud video storage this doesn’t ever have to happen again. When the bad guys break in and look for the recorder, this time there won’t be one to steal. Each camera can send its video directly to the cloud via the Internet. The video is uploaded to the cloud and is then safe forever. Meaning a much bigger chance of catching the thieves and recovering the jewels. As more security video users opt for cloud backup in addition to the on-site recorder, cloud video storage has become a ubiquitous part of the security landscape. Some users forgo using a local recorder at all. Networking is having a major effect on how video security customers are storing their video. And the trend towards the cloud will continue to grow.
For more information about surveillance cameras, easy-to-use searches, or to schedule a free consultation, please reach out to the Mills team.