How Apple Impacts Video Surveillance

Author: John Honovich, Published on Sep 03, 2008

Apple's interest in video surveillance is generating significant interest. This report examines the key areas where Apple will (and will not) impact the video surveillance industry.

Key Impact - iPhone/iPod touch

The Apple iPhone (and iPod touch) will finally make mobile video surveillance a major element of video surveillance, improving security operations and helping to reduce crime.  For a number of years, video surveillance vendors have touted mobile video despite minimal practical applications.  The Apple iPhone will overcome the technical and logistical problems that undermined earlier efforts of video surveillance companies to deploy mobile monitoring.

[Update Jan 2011 - We have tested the iPhone and iPad using video surveillance application.]

Background

Apple and videoNEXT co-hosted a panel at ASIS driving speculation on Apple's involvement in video surveillance has become intense.

Disclaimer: this report is my personal observations based on no private knowledge of Apple's plan.

Overview of Apple's Benefits

Today, two Apple products have potential use to video surveillance systems: the Xserve and the iPhone

The Xserve is Apple's high end server that can be used for running IP video surveillance software (for instance, VideoNext has announced support for the Xserve).  However, Apple's servers do not offer breakthrough benefits for video surveillance plus most video surveillance software is not developed to run on the Apple OS. Nonetheless, for those software providers that do run on the Apple OS, expect this to be a key benefit in growing segments such as the education market.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

The iPhone is essentially a phone/portable PC that can run 3rd party applications like video surveillance client software (the iPhone touch is fundamentally the iPhone without phone/3G service). For instance, videoNEXT will be announcing their iPhone application in the coming weeks.

That being said, I see no reason why Apple would buy video surveillance companies. Unlike Cisco, Apple has not historically bought companies to build broad product portfolios. Apple generally develops internally while acquiring strategic technologies to support their products.

Apple looks to benefit from video surveillance by driving adoption of their core products (such as Xserve and the iPhone) through the use of video surveillance applictions that are processor and bandwidth intensive.

Traditional Mobile Video Surveillance

Mobile video surveillance offers significant value for security operations:

  1. Being at a PC is not ideal for general monitoring: Most security monitors (despite stereotypes) have many responsibilities that require them to multi-task and frequently be away from a desk/PC.
  2. Responding requires security to be away from a PC: Intercepting real-time threats requires security operators to be moving towards the suspect.

Both of these points are well understood and have been the motivation for years to make surveillance more mobile.

Nonetheless, mobile video surveillance for PDAs and phones have been quite limited.  In fact, relative to the amount of vendor promotion, it always surprises me how little use there actually is.

In my experience and that of other integrators, it has been the practical issues involved that have undermined the use of mobile video surveillance.  Issues such as:

  • Difficulties in determining what devices to run the software on
  • Difficulties in loading/updating software on the PDA/phone
  • Difficulties in using software on the PDA/phone
  • Problems in providing bandwidth coverage
  • Need to have a phone and a secondary device dedicated to mobile surveillance

Apple iPhone Advantages for Mobile Surveillance

The iPhone offers 2 fundamental advantages over traditional devices for mobile video surveillance:

  1. A vastly easier to use and more powerful phone
  2. Their AppStore makes adding and updating third party applications easy

The general benefits of the iPhone are well discussed.  Specific elements that are critical to video surveillance are 3G wireless (for receiving video streams without depending on wifi) and the iPhone's superior abilities to display video and 3d graphics.  A potentially lesser appreciated feature is the built-in GPS locator that could provide significant benefits in helping responders locate where they are relative to the video they are viewing.

The AppStore is particularly important.  AppStore makes it simple for users to simply access, install and upgrade new applications.  This is especially valuable when contrasted to the traditional business model of mobile phone providers. In the traditional model, providers sought to limit and lock down what applications could be loaded on their phones. This made distributing and using 3rd party applications (like video monitoring client software) especially tricky.

The AppStore looks to make installing video surveillance clients as simply as downloading a song from iTunes.  This will make a major difference in the uptake of mobile surveillance.

Technicals Challenges for iPhone Development

A number of meaninful challenges exist for iPhone development. (This section is technical, skip to the conclusion if you prefer).

The fundamental issues are:

  • Most video surveillance software development is done using Microsoft's .NET framework, essentially incompatible with MAC OS X (this impact is quite significant on the server side but is only mildly problematic when developing client apps for the iPhone)
  • iPhone deveopment requires the use of a language Objective C and development environment different from 'normal' video surveillance tools (C#/Visual Studio or Java/Eclipse).
  • Many video surveillance companies use ActiveX controls to stream/display video in client software. iPhones do not support them.
  • You can only develop for iPhone apps on Macs (a problem if you are using Visual Studio running on a PC for .NET development)

None of these are truly deal-breakers for a moden video surveillance software company.  However, it will take time and a commitment of resources for many to make this happen.  Some companies will move quicker (for instance VideoNext does significant programming in C so this makes the transition easier).

Conclusion

By the end of the year, more than 10 million iPhones are projected to be sold, an increasing number for enterprise users.  As such, the features, functionalities and mass of users are growing to make iPhone an ideal choice to make mobile video surveillance a reality.


Related Reports on Monitoring

Burglar Alarm Zoning Guide on Apr 28, 2017
The function of an alarm panel is to gather information from sensors and respond to this information by triggering actions. While it is possible to...
Bosch B-Series Intrusion Tested on Apr 10, 2017
Bosch is one of the biggest names in intrusion but their B-Series panels, targeted at smaller site installs and available through distribution, are...
Deep Science - Active Threat Cloud Monitoring Startup on Apr 03, 2017
Deep learning for $2 a day for a system that automatically detects guns and masks, alerting the police to robberies and threats? A US startup is...
2Gig Intrusion Megatest (GC2 & GC3 Panels Tested) on Mar 28, 2017
2Gig is one of the most widely used intrusion systems, with two product lines that are the main offering of many alarm companies, huge national...
Simplisafe Warns Customers About Alarm Fines on Mar 17, 2017
Simplisafe markets themselves as a 'better way' than traditional professional alarm companies. However, in one key way, Simplisafe hides the...
Alarm Panic Switches Tutorial on Mar 16, 2017
Panic switches allow silently triggering an alarm system when it is otherwise disarmed. In this tutorial we explain and contrast the 7 most common...
Environmental Sensors For Burglar Alarm Tutorials on Mar 15, 2017
Intrusion detection systems can be used to alert users to environmental issues. By connecting sensors that monitor the heat, humidity, and...
DMP Intrusion Tested (XR Series) on Mar 09, 2017
DMP is a major provider of intrusion systems, but lacks the global brand recognition of some of its rivals (such as Bosch, Honeywell, DSC, or...
Directory of DIY Alarm Systems on Mar 03, 2017
The fastest growing segment of the alarm market is Do It Yourself (DIY) systems. This directory covers DIY products for central station, push...
Simplisafe Has Lower False Alarm Rates Than Professional Systems on Mar 01, 2017
'Everybody' 'knows' that DIY alarm systems, like Simplisafe, generate more false alarms than traditional, professionally installed ones. But it is...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Instant Cloud For Hikvision - Manything on Apr 28, 2017
One ISC West exhibitor had a very specific and clear pitch - cloud for Hikvision: In this note, we examine their offering, key differentiators,...
Milestone GPU Enhanced VMD Tested on Apr 28, 2017
In their 2017 XProtect release, Milestone announced support for hardware accelerated video motion detection, touting a 2X increase in server...
Burglar Alarm Zoning Guide on Apr 28, 2017
The function of an alarm panel is to gather information from sensors and respond to this information by triggering actions. While it is possible to...
Avigilon Discontinuing Rialto Analytics Line on Apr 27, 2017
Avigilon is informing dealers/partners that the legacy VideoIQ Rialto products have been discontinued, recommending the newer ACC ES Analytics...
A Marketing Home Run For Knightscope - Man Attacks Robot on Apr 27, 2017
We criticize Knightscope regularly - their lack of revenue, their trying to fool mom 'n pop investors, their associating themselves with a clueless...
The World's First Fashion IP Camera From Amazon on Apr 27, 2017
Some analytics cameras can tell you if a person is jumping a fence, or loitering in a secure area, but none of them can tell you if the person...
Last Day - IP Networking Course May 2017 on Apr 26, 2017
Today is the last day to register for the May IP Networking Course. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video...
Hikvision EZVIZ Amazon Scam Revealed on Apr 26, 2017
Hikvision is violating US Federal Trade Commission guidelines and Amazon rules with a "Honest" Review Program scheme that provides gift cards to...
Anixter CEO Admits Price Deflation and Non-Exclusive Integrator Sales on Apr 26, 2017
Anixter's CEO has admitted to (1) price deflation impacting IP camera sales and (2) not always being 'exclusive' with security integrators. In...
Xandem Next Gen Intrusion Tested on Apr 26, 2017
Xandem's "full coverage motion tracking technology" is unlike any intrusion technology we have seen. We bought their new system and tested it...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact