For the second part of our series on the future of IP video surveillance, we look at the advanced features and capabilities of surveillance cameras that are increasing the quality of viewable footage and bringing it into the 21st century. These features include higher resolution, increasing frame rates, light sensitivity and day/night capability, omnidirectional cameras and light-field cameras.
Resolution has always been one of the primary markers of quality video surveillance cameras, but storage capacity and bandwidth costs have deterred many from being able to afford the best. However, advances in on-board and cloud storage capabilities are making higher resolution cameras more affordable, since storing the footage is the most expensive piece of a surveillance system installation. At present, the top camera resolution available today sits around 30 megapixels, but there now exist cameras capable of gigapixel resolution– that’s 1 billion pixels! As these cameras make their way into some market segments that need it most, other vertical markets will follow as the prices drop.
Increased Frame Rates
Though higher frame rates have traditionally been reserved for certain applications, such as license plate recognition in parking lots or dealers at casino gaming tables, the overall demand for increasing frame rates is already growing rapidly because of falling costs and the new evidentiary standards the technology is setting. The standard frame rate of most surveillance cameras is 30 frames per second (fps), butcertain cameras’ frame rates can go as high as 120 fps.
Recently, experimental cameras have been able to reproduce 1 trillion fps! Very high fps cameras could even be capable of determining bullet trajectories. This could have a monumental impact on the quality of evidence that is presented in a prosecutorial court of law, and will go a long way in helping law enforcement deciphering high-volume activity in public transit, government buildings and critical infrastructure.
Light Sensitivity and Day/Night Cameras
New advances in light sensitivity technologies are making the IP cameras of the future ever more versatile, multifunctional and even nocturnal. Using technologies such as infrared (IR) sensors or thermal heat detection, these cameras can detect the slightest movement based on the heat emitted by a given object in the viewfinder, and need little to no light whatsoever during the process. IR and thermal cameras are becoming more popular in extreme low-light applications such as parking lots and remote sites to detect finer characteristics, and additional features can even add color to IR images, making it virtually indistinguishable from a daytime image.
Omnidirectional or 360-degree cameras are quickly replacing pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras as the most comprehensive coverage a single camera can offer. For example, single-lens fisheye cameras receive a full 360-degree image that can then be “dewarped” to provide PTZ capability. Multi-lens 360-degree cameras contain multiple lenses in one unit whose images are stitched together to create a full, inclusive image. These images provide greater situational clarity both real time and recorded viewing. As 360-degree technology improves, these cameras will become more affordable and provide situational awareness for any application imaginable.
A cutting-edge technology that may soon make headway in the IP video surveillance world is the concept of light-field or “plenoptic” cameras. These cameras are unique in that they can focus on an image after it has already been captured. This opens up a whole new realm of convenience and affordability for investigators and integrators, as cameras will no longer need to be focused on installation, and blurry footage can be corrected on demand. Though this technology is currently nascent and too expensive, it will take some time before we see its initiation into the mainstream IP camera channels.
IP surveillance cameras have come a long way in providing a new, innovative way of capturing images. In part 3 of this series, we will look at IT security, storage concerns and wireless connectivity, and how these facets of IP surveillance cameras are being developed and innovated.
Read “The Future of IP Video Surveillance, Part 1” here.