Artificial vision and increasingly smarter cameras
Sales Director for Southern Europe at Axis Communications
Could you describe Axis’ mission to our readers in a few words?
Our mission statement at Axis is "Together we pioneer intelligent network technology" which perfectly sums up our corporate objective. The word “together” is crucial for us, it is extremely important to work with our partners and with our team to ensure our end customer the best solution. For Axis it is important to anticipate market trends and customer needs and make a potentially complex solution as simple as possible. Being at the forefront of the way of thinking and working as a team is proved by the simplicity of our products and solutions proposed. When we talk about our supply it is interesting to also mention Axis’ vision: "Innovating for a smarter and safer word." Axis product portfolio is definitely the most extensive on the market to achieve this goal, ranging from all categories of IP cameras to accessories and the so-called 'new businesses' to complement the solution, such as Access Control, Network Horn Speaker and Video Door Station, obviously adding our management and recording software. Finally the entire network of our partners who develop their smart algorithms on our ACAP platform, further increasing Axis’ supply on the market.
Axis is a company that has always focused on innovation seeing what others could not see and being the first to believe in IP cameras. Could you tell us how Axis contributed to the IP cameras revolution?
In addition to inventing a new sector, the IP cameras one, one of Axis' main merits is surely to contribute today as well to the convergence of the market from analog to network cameras, bringing all the benefits of IP technology (scaling, image quality, network security, HDTV, megapixels, on-board intelligence, etc.) into the IP video surveillance market, a sector that now covers 80% of the total and will reach 100% in a few years. Innovation is a key factor for Axis as proved by the launch of the first network camera in the world, the setting of HD in video surveillance, Lightfinder and thermal technologies and also Axis Zipstream, a technology capable of solving the problems of bandwidth consumption and storage capacity. Innovations taken as a reference points by the industry and often imitated by competitors, that Axis has been the first to launch on the market, also thanks to the will of always being “one step ahead” (that’s why “innovation” is the first word of our vision), investing 15% of its turnover in Research and Development, a key area since the establishment of the company, that pervades the whole way of thinking and doing business.
In your opinion, what is the most binding limit for the current camera technology?
Currently cameras broadcast streaming and record video, in any case we must admit that, at the end of the process, there is a monitor and an operator. But this is not the most binding limit of technology, as today IP cameras are able to interpret the scene in a reliable way - comparable to that of an operator - for example through the recognition of false alarms or the launch of alarms in potentially suspicious situations. The main limit of IP technology I see is still tied to the existing network infrastructure: the more cameras are performing and with greater resolution, the more bandwidth and storage capacity we need. And this has a cost. The already mentioned Axis Zipstream technology, which depending on the scenario can reduce bandwidth and storage by 40% compared to the H.264 standard, future developments on the H.265 compression protocol and increasingly powerful processors will help overcome this limit. Another concern is related to Privacy, a continually evolving subject which still often limits the use of intelligent technologies such as facial recognition or license plate reading. The last problem is the lack of a detailed and thorough analysis of the so-called Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) on the market that would allow many installers and also end users to consider not only the cost of cameras itself but the whole system and its maintenance.
Today can we imagine that on-board intelligence will be the next revolution in the camera industry, bringing more intelligent and autonomous scene analysis software?
Certainly, in fact for several years now Axis has been orienting its hardware technology to host increasingly powerful and intelligent on-board camera software. To have on-board intelligence you need to be able to count on two main factors, the image quality and a high-performance processor. High-quality image means having high-quality optics, a high-quality sensor and also a high-quality processor powerful enough to be able to host these algorithms on board (speaking of which, Axis is launching its ARTPEC-6 on the market), and the Axis processor is the only one in the world exclusively dedicated to video surveillance. For example, it doesn’t make sense to use a thermal camera without an on-board camera processor and software capable of supporting it. Axis Communications, which has always supported open platform and the use of industry standards, as well as promoted ONVIF, has among its main objectives to provide the most complete solution for physical security. IP and thermal cameras, Video Management System (VMS), Network Video Recorder (NVR), onboard intelligence (the acquisition of Citilog, a key player in Intelligent Video applied to world of transportation, is particularly significant), Access Control, IP Video Door Station and Network Horn Speaker represent a complete solution that Axis offers the market and other vertical ones, once again being capable of driving industry innovation.