Idea: Should IPVM Open An Online Lab?

We are thinking of opening an online lab that would allow members to connect and try out various manufacturer's cameras and VMSes.

The idea is that many people are interested in more manufacturers and models than they want (or can reasonably) buy.

By contrast, IPVM has bought 50, maybe 100 unique camera models from 30+ manufacturers. And we buy more every month.

We could make these cameras available. We could also put web based controls to adjust lighting, control motion, etc.

This would let you try out and experiment with different devices, help learn more about how they work, etc.

So what do you think?


Wow. How cool would that be. Also a good way to show clients what they can expect.

The online lab would be a fantastic resource and would doubtless lead to some interesting discoveries which could then be shared on IPVM.

Would it be OK with IPVM to show these images to clients as long as the client isn't given any IPVM material to take away with them?

I don't have any objection to the general idea of showing cameras in a lab to customers.

I have a strong objection if people are going to use it to convince customers that one camera is better than another. This should be done on controlled head to head testing, whether the type we do or actually doing it on the customer premise.

That makes good sense. Thanks for spelling it out John. I do wonder if some manufacturers would attempt to use the online lab to make it appear that their camera is better than a competitor's camera, but I'm sure you've thought of that already.

Where would you host such a lab? I suspect a lot of upstream bandwidth would be consumed by the site.

In a office building with a high speed Internet connection :)

If people use it a lot, then the cost of adding more bandwidth would easily be justifiable. This is the type of good problem that we can work on if there is overwhelming simultaneous demand.

I was concerned because in my trip to your neck-of-the woods this month, I was shocked at how slow the conenction to my exacq VMS on the mainland was. Yes, there are many variables here, but I hope the lab will be located on a major landmass.

Testing has been done in Pennsylvania for more than 2 years. Lab would be there.

Excellent Initiative !

...But if I go to Anixter's Lab, I could possibly get a nice steak dinner and possibly get awesome seats 2 or 3 rows behind the catcher at Wrigley Field (Season Tickets) plus be on TV for a majority of the game. Being on TV would prove to my friends and family that I'm an important business person.

This would be a great Idea to test other solutions/cameras/funcionalities along with a good scheduling tool and time-based slots.

About ppl and manufactures using it to show that their cameras/vms are better than the others, well I think this would surely happens but then its over the web, you have bandwidth issue, you could also hide some settings, etc...

And..... at least down here, most of the customers only beleive if they see it in person or with a PoC.

Though undoubtably a novel and noble idea, on reflection, it seems like more than a minor effort, and quite possibly a major pain in the ass. I'm sure that John wouldn't suggest it unless he thought he and the team could do it well, and they are certainly capable of executing.

But its not just like plugging in 96 cameras into a couple of switches in a room with a ip controlled dimmer/blinds and an electric train and walking away. That might be somewhat possible in a pure learning/experimentation scenario, with a "it is what it is" mentality. However, there is a huge difference in asking the question "i wonder how much better WDR cameras are than non-WDR", than "Is the Axis ABC with XYZ with better in low-light than the Bosch..."

The temptation to try to perform ad-hoc shootouts for specific situations/oppurtunities will be great, and attempting to facilitate them might be quite labor intensive. As in:

  • How do I try the lens from that IPVM shootout?
  • Can I upgrade/rollback the firmware?
  • How do I get the same scene in camera X as Y?
  • How do I record these clips?
  • Is there a license plate/face available?
  • How do I adjust a vari-focal lens?
  • What happened to camera ABC?

@John, what do you envision the parameters for concurrent use would be, to keep it within a reasonable effort level for staff?

As is our general approach, we are going to start with the basics, see how people adopt it and expand from there.

For instance, sure we can put a license plate and a dummy in the room, but that doesn't mean it will provide exact comparisons amongst cameras, especially given variances in lens lengths, etc.

I am not going to do something that is immensely labor intensive (like change lens on camera A to lens from manufacturer B, etc.). If people want to do that, they should buy their own cameras.

The point of having it online is to enable people to get a basic feel of how different cameras work, not to do advanced comparative testing virtually.

77% overall are very interested in this, including 88% of integrators.

I think if there is ever going to be a Saint that looks over the world of CCTV, it'll be you one day John! It's a great gesture and will make a terrific addition to the site.

Personnally, I would love to see it evolve into a Wizard type set up that could offer guidance and feedback regarding every configuration choice each camera has on it's menu. This could take into consideration not only the data available from the manufacturers and any IPVM tests performed, but also the overall best practice guidelines and perhaps the experiences of the writer.

This could also be linked to a Camera Selection Wizard that doesn't ask the user to select the components and specs for the camera, but asks questions relating to the objective and desired outcome of the application.

I accept that all of this would be a massive task, however, I believe there could be potential commercial benefits in such a tool.

Anyone agree?

"I would love to see it evolve into a Wizard type set up that could offer guidance and feedback regarding every configuration choice each camera has on it's menu."

Tom, good feedback. Thanks.

I think the first step is to have a general guide on configuring cameras (i.e., how / why you would configure X, Y, Z) and the next would manufactuer specific guides (how do you configure Axis cameras, etc.).

We could then evaluate what to do from there.