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.

5 reports cite this report:

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 Releases First New Access Controller In 5 Years (A1601) on Jun 15, 2018
It has been 5 years since Axis 2013 entry in the physical access control market, with the A1001 (IPVM test). Now, Axis has released its second...
ReconaSense - The AI / Access Control / Analytics / IoT / Video Company Profile on Jun 12, 2018
One company's ISC West booth stood out for displaying a light-up tower of buzzwords. The company, ReconaSense, pledged to be 'making sense of it...
Powerline Networking For Video Surveillance Advocated By Comtrend on Jun 08, 2018
Powerline networking, using existing electrical wiring, has been around for many years. Indeed, over the years, some video surveillance providers...
H.265 / HEVC Codec Tutorial on Jun 07, 2018
H.265 support has improved significantly in 2018, with H.265 camera/VMS compatibility increased compared to only a year ago, and more manufacturers...
Bosch IVA Video Analytics And Motion+ VMD Tested on Jun 06, 2018
Bosch's video analytics now ship on nearly every model, from indoor domes to high-end 5MP starlight cameras.  In this test, we evaluate Bosch's...
Princeton Identity Access 200 Iris Scanners Examined on Jun 05, 2018
Iris recently registered a big jump as a preferred biometric in our Favorite Biometrics survey, but access-ready options can be difficult to...
Hikvision PanoVu 20MP Flexible Camera Tested on Jun 01, 2018
Hikvision has released their first repositionable multi imager cameras with integrated IR included, atypical in competitors. We bought and tested...
Oncam 12MP Fisheye Camera Tested on May 29, 2018
Oncam has made their name since the early 2000s as a fisheye specialist, focusing only on panoramic cameras. To see how this specialist stacks up...
VMS Server Sizing on May 25, 2018
Specifying the right sized PC/server for VMS software is one of the most important yet difficult decisions in IP video surveillance. In the past...
Hanwha Wisenet X Analytics and VMD Test on May 24, 2018
Continuing our updated testing of camera analytics, we tested Hanwha's Wisenet X analytics for over two weeks in multiple scenes, indoors and out,...

Most Recent Industry Reports

IPVM Vulnerability Scanner Released on Jun 18, 2018
IPVM is proud to announce video surveillance's first and only cybersecurity vulnerability scanner. This tool allows quickly and simply...
Hikvision Corrects False Cybersecurity Announcement on Jun 18, 2018
Hikvision has corrected a false cybersecurity announcement that claimed a British government-sponsored program endorsed the cybersecurity of...
July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jun 16, 2018
The last chance to save $50 on registration is this Thursday, June 21st. Register now and save. This is the only networking course designed...
The Dumb Ones: PSA's Bozeman On Cybersecurity on Jun 15, 2018
The smart ones are the hundred people who flew to Denver and spent $500+ on a 1.5-day conference featuring Dahua as a 'cyber responsible partner',...
Amazon Ring Launches $10 Monthly Professional Alarm Monitoring on Jun 15, 2018
Amazon's Ring has announced an alarm system with 24/7 professional alarm monitoring for $10 per month, a fraction of the $30+ per month traditional...
Axis Releases First New Access Controller In 5 Years (A1601) on Jun 15, 2018
It has been 5 years since Axis 2013 entry in the physical access control market, with the A1001 (IPVM test). Now, Axis has released its second...
Hikvision 12MP Fisheye Camera Tested (DS-2CD63C2F-IV) on Jun 14, 2018
Hikvision's DS-2CD63C2F-IV is their flagship panoramic camera, with a 12MP imager, 15m integrated IR, smart codec, and more. We tested the 63C2 in...
Four Major Outdoor Camera Install Problems on Jun 14, 2018
Over 140 integrators told us the top four camera installation mistakes that lead to unexpected problems and failures. Their comments often...
Security Sales Course Summer 2018 on Jun 14, 2018
Based on member's interest, IPVM is offering a security sales course this summer. Register Now - IPVM Security Sales Course Summer...
China Public Video Surveillance Guide: From Skynet to Sharp Eyes on Jun 14, 2018
China is expanding its video surveillance network to achieve “100%” nationwide coverage by 2020, including facial recognition capabilities and a...

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