Axis Camera Application Platform (ACAP) Launched

By: 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?
  4. 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.

    The amount of computing resource available depends on chipsets used. The current generation chipset is the ARTPEC-3 [link no longer available] 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)

    Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
    Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

    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 [link no longer available] and the TI 6437 [link no longer available]. 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 [link no longer available] - 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 [link no longer available] 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.

8 reports cite this report:

Huawei To Be “Top Three Global Position” in Video Surveillance on Oct 29, 2018
Huawei - China’s biggest networking gear and smartphone maker - plans to become one of the top three global video surveillance manufacturers in...
Bosch / SAST / OSSA Aims To Be Industry Standard IP Camera OS and App Store on Sep 28, 2018
Bosch is betting tens of millions of dollars that their spinout SAST (Safety and Security Things) will become the defacto standard OS of IP cameras...
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

Wireless / WiFi Access Lock Guide on Nov 12, 2019
For some access openings, running wires can add thousands in cost, and wireless alternatives that avoid it becomes appealing. But using wireless...
Open vs End-to-End Systems: Integrator Statistics 2019 on Nov 11, 2019
Preference for open systems is on the decline, according to new IPVM statistics. We asked integrators: For video surveillance systems, do you...
The Access Control Codes Guide: IBC, NFPA 72, 80 & 101 on Nov 07, 2019
For access, there is one basic maxim: Life safety above all else. But how do you know if all applicable codes are being followed? While the...
Rhombus Cameras, VMS and Analytics Tested on Nov 06, 2019
Rhombus boasts they have created "the new standard in Enterprise, cloud-managed video security" and told IPVM in January 2019 they offer twice the...
Aiphone Video Intercom Tested (IX Series 2) on Nov 05, 2019
Aiphone was one of integrator's favorite intercom manufacturers but how well do their products work? The company's newest offering, the IX Series 2...
90+ Companies Profile Directory on Nov 05, 2019
While IPVM covers the largest companies in the industry regularly (like Axis, Dahua, Hikvision, etc.), IPVM strives to do a profile post on each...
Avigilon Appearance Search Tested on Oct 30, 2019
Avigilon Appearance Search claims that it "sorts through hours of video with ease, to quickly locate a specific person or vehicle of interest...
nFlux AI Startup Profile on Oct 28, 2019
nFlux, an Amazon, Google, and Microsoft funded AI startup told IPVM their mission is to build the most intelligent video analytics platform in the...
Remote Access (DDNS vs P2P vs VPN) Usage Statistics on Oct 25, 2019
Remote access can make systems more usable but also more vulnerable. How are integrators delivring remote access in 2019? How many are using...
Security Canada Central Show Report 2019 on Oct 24, 2019
IPVM attended Security Canada Central in Toronto to see what is new in the Canadian market. Inside, we share videos and dozens of images...

Most Recent Industry Reports

ADT Stock Surges - "Leading The Commercial Space" on Nov 15, 2019
Don't call it comeback... but maybe call it a commercial provider. ADT, whose stock dropped by as much as 2/3rds since IPOing in 2018, has now...
Gatekeeper Security Company Profile - Detecting Faces Inside Vehicles on Nov 14, 2019
Border security is a common discussion in mainstream US news and politics, as is the use of banned Chinese equipment by US Government agencies....
Hikvision CEO And Vice-Chair Under PRC Government Investigation on Nov 14, 2019
In a surprising and globally covered move, Hikvision CEO Hu Yangzhong and Vice-Chairman Gong Hongjia are being investigated by China's securities...
Camera Field of View (FoV) Guide on Nov 13, 2019
Field of View (FoV) and Angle of View (AoV), are deceptively complex. At their most basic, they simply describe what the camera can "see" and seem...
UK Big Brother Watch: Hikvision Is 'Morally Bankrupt' on Nov 13, 2019
UK civil liberties advocate Big Brother Watch has condemned Hikvision as being 'morally bankrupt' following IPVM exposing Hikvision marketing...
Color Low Light Mega Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Panasonic, Speco, Sony, Vivotek on Nov 12, 2019
This is the biggest color low light shootout ever, testing 20+ super low light models from 10 manufacturers: Increasingly, each manufacturer...
Wireless / WiFi Access Lock Guide on Nov 12, 2019
For some access openings, running wires can add thousands in cost, and wireless alternatives that avoid it becomes appealing. But using wireless...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Nov 11, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...
Hikvision Markets Uyghur Ethnicity Analytics, Now Covers Up on Nov 11, 2019
Hikvision has marketed an AI camera that automatically identifies Uyghurs, on its China website, only covering it up days ago after IPVM questioned...
Open vs End-to-End Systems: Integrator Statistics 2019 on Nov 11, 2019
Preference for open systems is on the decline, according to new IPVM statistics. We asked integrators: For video surveillance systems, do you...