Axis Camera Application Platform (ACAP) Launched

Author: John Honovich, Published on Oct 18, 2009

Axis has announced an open application platform for video analytics. This allows customers to run a variety of 3rd party video analytics on Axis cameras. Simultaneously, video analytic manufacturers gain access to Axis' extensive user base. The first applications are planned for Q4 2009 with AgentVi, Aimetis and Via:sys among the early adopters. [Note: see Axis section on their website describing their Camera Application Platform.]

Limitations of camera and recorders support is a historical challenge for the adoption of video analytics. Some video analytic manufacturers only support their own brand of cameras, while most camera manufacturers offer no video analytics or a single option for their cameras.

The most optimistic analogy is to Apple's iPhone app store which has single-handedly exploded the use of applications on mobile phones.

While Axis's program should remove limitations on camera support, the most significant concern will be the capacity and performance of the analytics running on Axis cameras.

To that end, we see 3 key questions that will determine the success of Axis analytics program:

  1. How well will the analytics perform on Axis cameras?
  2. How will performance vary on different Axis cameras?
  3. How significant will support and optimization of analytics be on Axis cameras?

Product Overview

From a user/integrator perspective, 3rd party video analytics software will be uploaded to the cameras in the same manner firmware upgrades are executed.

From a video analytics manufacturer perspective, the developer ports their C/C++ code to Axis cameras (running Linux) using the Axis Embedded Developer SDK (see the Axis developer Q&A). Companies must register for the SDK (see registration form).

Running on Axis Cameras

Video analytics will be run on Axis's chipset. However, H.264 encoding and image processing (the most resource intensive elements) are performed in hardware and do not require CPU usage. As such, Axis estimates that the CPU is lightly utilized and available for performing video analytics.

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

The amount of computing resource available depends on chipsets used. The current generation chipset is the ARTPEC-3 which is used in most of the newly introduced products such as the Q1755 and the P33 series cameras. The next generation chipset, the ARTPEC-4, is planned for release in 2010. This chipset will be substantially more powerful but specific details have not been released. However, many of Axis top selling cameras use the older generation ARTPEC-2 chips (for example, the 211, 221, 223M). The analytics platform will not be offered for ARTPEC-2 cameras (though some analytics providers such as AgentVi and Via:sys currently run on them)

Examining the current generation ARTPEC-3 chipset raises some concerns on performance.

Axis describes the ARTPEC-3 as a SOC that "integrates a powerful CPU, an Ethernet (10/100) controller, MMU, and a full L1/L2 cache. Image and video encoding to JPEG, Motion-JPEG, and H.264, and high quality image processing, are supported in dedicated hardware."

Hardware specifications of the ARTPEC-3 include:

  • 200 MHz RISC CPU with a 32-bit data and address width
  • Separate instruction and data (L1) caches, each of 16 kB and 2-way set associative
  • 64 kB Level-2 cache, 8-way set associative
  • Memory controllers for DDR2-400 external RAM

Aimetis reports that, "With the ARTPEC-3, we will have some of our retail analytics available.  With ARTPEC-4, there is enough CPU for all of our algorithms except our Auto-PTZ tracking algorithm. "

A review of these high-level specifications with 3 independent video analytic manufacturers raised some concerns about the relative processing power compared to current chip offerings used for video analytics. Specific chips cited were the TI 6446 and the TI 6437. While they could not make a definitive conclusion with the limited information provided, they were concerned about the computing resources available in the current ARTPEC-3 chip.

3rd Parties Responsible for Ensuring Compatibility

Each video analytics manufacturer will be responsible for testing and ensuring that their analytics run on various Axis cameras without compromising the camera's performance. Axis will provide the manufacturers a compatibility tool. The guarantee will be the responsibility of the analytics manufacturer, not Axis.

Licensing

A copy protection tool can be enabled to ensure proper licensing. According to Axis, "The analytics vendor requests License Codes for their application from Axis. The vendor sell and distribute these License Codes to their customers/integrators. To unlock the application, the License Code together with a camera-unique ID is used to retrieve a License Key from Axis website. This License Key is uploaded to the camera and the application is unlocked. The vendor can provide also a Trial Period using the same scheme."

Support

Support for configuration and optimization of the video analytics is the sole responsibility of the video analytics provider.

Pricing

Axis is not charging a licensing fee or requiring revenue sharing. This is essentially free to the video analytics manufacturer (who, of course, charges a license fee to the customer).

Axis anticipates profiting from this platform from the growth of camera sales.

Issues to Consider

While the openness of the platform, combined with Axis large size, with draw significant interest, there are a number of issues to consider:

  • Potential insufficient computing power to achieve high performance: Computing requirements vary greatly based on the type of analytic performed, the sophistication of the analytic, the efficiency of the implementation, etc. Many of the "higher end" analytics may not be able to run on the ARTPEC-3 cameras. This may be resolved as cameras using the upcoming ARTPEC-4 are released. However, this is a key unknown
  • Challenges in determining what cameras support what analytics: Because Axis supports a broad range of cameras using multiple generations of chipsets, it could be somewhat challenging to determine which cameras can support the analytics required.
  • Service issues due to analytics overload: Since analytic vendors are responsible for verifying their own conformance, this could lead to problems in the field (at least initially until the issues are identified and notified to Axis, etc.)
  • General performance of analytics: As with all analytics, the performance and need for on-site optimization will still be a key concern. Given that these analytics will be running on a large number of models and the analytics manufacturer may have little field experience with these models, model specific issues may arise. 
Competitive Comparison
 
Given Axis's size and this initiative's combination of cameras and analytics, the Axis platform has the potential to impact a wide range of manufacturers and technical approaches. The following list examines a variety of leading alternatives:
  • ObjectVideo - Axis's platform may be complimentary to ObjectVideo yet has the potential to undermine OV's business strategy. ObjectVideo aims to be the "Intel Inside" of video analytics, providing video analytic software that powers video surveillance systems for manufacturers across the board. To this end, ObjectVideo could run on the Axis platform just like it runs on TI and Intel processors. On the other hand, to the extent that the Axis platform is successful, it has the potential to enable smaller video analytic startups to enter the market and leverage the strength of Axis's market share.
  • ioimage - Axis approach is probably most significantly different than ioimage's. ioimage runs its analytics only on its own cameras and encoders with the goal of maximizing performance and quality. To the extent that Axis approach can provide similar performance in an open platform, this would undermine the value of ioimage's more 'closed' and tightly integrated approach.
  • Small video analytic companies may benefit the most from the success of Axis's analytic platform. Today, there are dozens of small video analytic developers world-wide who generally run on servers or have OEM agreements with IP camera manufacturers with small market share. The Axis platform could make it much easier for users to deploy analytics from smaller companies.
  • Bosch - Bosch has a similar approach architecturally to ioimage, integrating their own analytics in their cameras and encoders. The risk to Bosch is similar to that of ioimage. Of course, since Bosch has a significantly larger market size than ioimage, the risk is not as important to their overall business.
  • ACTi / budget camera companies - None of the 'budget camera' companies run high-end on board analytics. Axis's analytic platform provides a differentiator for mid to higher end projects that seek to use video analytics. On the other hand, the more powerful chips required to run analytics may maintain or extend the cost advantage the budget camera companies offer.
  • Milestone's analytics platform - Milestone offers a similar open analytics platform in which dozens of vendor's analytics can be integrated and monitored through Milestone's VMS. The Milestone platform is complimentary to the Axis platform. Customers may run video analytics on Axis cameras and then have the analytics monitored on Milestone VMS software. The Axis platform is likely to have a bigger impact on the overall market due to Axis's much larger market size and the flexibility of adding a few cameras with video analytics to any project.
  • VMS companies - This platform does not compete with VMS providers. Indeed, since VMS providers often develop their own video analytics, the VMS providers may see this as an opportunity to off-load some processing power from their servers (for example, advanced motion detection, facial detection, people counting, etc.). They may offer this for free (or low cost) as an incentive to use their systems.

Long Term Outlook

Some important questions exist on the performance of analytics running on Axis cameras.

The key question is likely "when" rather than "if". Will this be mass market in 2011 or 2013, etc? Even if some video analytics require too much processing power for the current generation, at some point in the near future, the cameras likely will be capable of doing do and at an incremental hardware cost that is minimal.

6 reports cite this report:

Huawei Software Defined Cameras on Jun 25, 2018
Huawei is aiming to break the reputation of Chinese companies not being good at software. The company is now leading their video surveillance...
ONVIF Camera Code Open Source'd (Vicon) on Mar 30, 2016
Vicon is joining the open source community by releasing their ONVIF and camera source code, something relatively unheard of in the security...
Axis Releases Their Own Video Analytics on Sep 28, 2015
After years of promoting third party video analytic applications and improving their VMD (see IPVM test results of Axis VMD 3.0 vs Avigilon), Axis...
Strong Q409 Financial Results Examined on Feb 03, 2010
Reversing a year long negative trend, Axis's Q4 2009 financial results were very strong, raising the question, why? Revenue was up 32% (Q409...
ARTPEC-3 Performance Examined on Jan 27, 2010
Axis's ARTPEC-3 chip is a key element in the positioning and performance of Axis network cameras. Axis has released a technical paper with metrics...
Axis Enters Thermal Camera Market (Q1910-E) on Jan 17, 2010
Axis has entered the thermal camera market with potentially disruptive pricing and positioning. Axis's first thermal offering - the Q1910/-E...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Axis ~$100 Camera Tested on Jul 17, 2018
Axis has released their lowest cost camera ever, the Companion Eye Mini L, setting their sights on a market dominated by Hikvision and Dahua. Can...
Installing Dome Cameras Indoors Guide on Jul 16, 2018
IPVM is producing the definitive series on installing surveillance cameras. This entry covers one of the most common scenarios - installing dome...
Axis Perimeter Defender Video Analytics Tested on Jul 12, 2018
Axis 'high security' video analytics offering is Perimeter Defender, OEMed / developed with Digital Barriers. But how good is Perimeter Defender?...
Drops Dahua, Fenner Becomes ISS CMO on Jul 09, 2018
Hired to improve Dahua's miserable marketing just last year, Janet Fenner has quit Dahua, joining VMS manufacturer ISS as Chief Marketing...
UK VSaaS Startup Ocucon on Jul 03, 2018
Decreasing exposure to fraudulent slip-and-fall insurance claims and lawsuits is one of the oldest selling points of video surveillance for retail....
Digital Watchdog Low Cost 4MP Camera Tested on Jul 02, 2018
Based on member 4MP testing requests, we bought and tested Digital Watchdog's low-cost 4MP DWC-MTT4Wi to see how it performs in real world scenes,...
Panoramic Fisheye Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Oncam And Vivotek on Jun 27, 2018
IPVM tested Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Oncam And Vivotek 12MP panoramic fisheye cameras head to head, as shown in the test setup...
Snap Surveillance Profile on Jun 26, 2018
There are not a lot of video surveillance companies that survive 9 years with only one feature that makes their product stand out. In the case of...
OpenEye Apex VMS Tested on Jun 26, 2018
OpenEye is a US company, founded nearly 20 years ago. In the past few years, OpenEye has been one of a few VMS providers that have pivoted to being...
Axis Guard Suite Video Analytics Tested on Jun 25, 2018
In 2015, we declared Axis' Guard Suite analytics "weak", with missed detections and false alerts common. But after nearly 3 years and a 2.0 version...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Amazon Ring Alarm System Tested on Jul 16, 2018
Amazon Ring is going to hurt traditional dealers, and especially ADT, new IPVM test results of Ring's Alarm system underscore. IPVM found that...
Hikvision Wins Chinese Government Forced Facial Recognition Project Across 967 Mosques on Jul 16, 2018
Hikvision has won a Chinese government tender which requires that facial recognition cameras be set up at the entrance of every single mosque...
Installing Dome Cameras Indoors Guide on Jul 16, 2018
IPVM is producing the definitive series on installing surveillance cameras. This entry covers one of the most common scenarios - installing dome...
Security Sales Course Summer 2018 on Jul 13, 2018
Based on member's interest, IPVM is offering a security sales course this summer. Register Now - IPVM Security Sales Course Summer 2018 This...
US Tariffs Hit China Video Surveillance on Jul 13, 2018
Chinese video surveillance products avoided tariffs for the first two rounds. Now, in the third round, many video surveillance products will be...
Last Chance - July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jul 12, 2018
Registration ends today, Thursday. Register now. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
4 Most Difficult Camera Installs (Statistics) on Jul 12, 2018
Heavy housings, cumbersome brackets, heavy ladders required, and tricky field of view requirements will cause difficulties no matter the camera...
Axis Perimeter Defender Video Analytics Tested on Jul 12, 2018
Axis 'high security' video analytics offering is Perimeter Defender, OEMed / developed with Digital Barriers. But how good is Perimeter Defender?...
Hikvision Fights Ban - Claims 'Red Scare', Hires 14 Term Ex-Congressman on Jul 11, 2018
Hikvision is fighting back against the House Bill Ban of their products. Hikvision has hired one of the biggest lobbying firms, led by a 14 term...
Arecont Acquisition By Costar on Jul 11, 2018
Arecont Vision acquisition by Costar Technologies has been approved by the court, concluding the bankruptcy process triggered by Arecont's...

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