Camera Innovation is Amazing

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 04, 2016

The innovation in the video surveillance camera market has never been higher or faster.

While there is much negativity about the race to the bottom, including from IPVM, it is important to appreciate this important distinction.

Not * *********

**** ** ******** ****** *** **** ******* **** ** *** becoming * *********. **** ** *****.

*********** *** ****** **** *** ****** *** ***** ******* *********** or *************** ** ********.

Amazing ********** ********

** ** ********* ** ******** *** *** *** ******** *** come ** *** **** * ***** *** ** *** ******* down.

* ***** ***:

  • **** *** *** **** ******* *** *********. ***'* ******* **? Check ****** ******** ****. *** **** ******* ** **** **** *** *** ******** today. ******* ** *** **** ********* ****** ********.
  • *** ***** *********** *** **** ****. ***, ************ ***** ******* rival ** (***:*** ***** *** ***** ********).
  • ********** ** *** ****. ***, ****** ***** ************* ***** ********** IR ********.
  • ********* *********** *** *** *** ******.***** ********** *** **** ********.
  • ****** *** ****. ***, ****** ****** **** **** ***** **** ****** ********** *******.
  • ***** ****** **** ****** (*.*., *** ******** **** ****). *****, *** ********* *** *************, ***** ********* ***** ****.

**** ****** ***** *******, **** ***** ********* ***********, **** ******* ease ** ***********. ******* *** ***, *** ****** **** **** were **** * ***** ***.

Last **** ********

**** ** *** ****** ** **** ** **** *** **** year, ***** **** **** *********** ******** ** ***** *** ***** performance, **** ***** ***** ** ********* *********** (***** ******), *** broad ************ ** ** / **** *******.

** *** **** ******* ***** **** *** ****** **********.

The ***** *******

***********, *** ******** *** * *******. ******* *** ***** ***********, a ****** ** *** ****** ******* ************* *** ***** ********** in ******** ****** ** **** *** ******* ** ********.

*** ***** ****** *** ***** *** ********* *** *** ** good *** ** ********, ** **** ** **** *** ***********.

*************, **** ** ***. *** ******* **********'* ******* ******** ** cameras **** ***** ************** / ******** ******** *** ******* * bubble, ************* *** ************, *********** **** ** *************** *** ******. ******* **** **** *** more ****** ********* ** *** ******* *******, ******* *** ******* players ** ***** **** ****** **** ******* ** **** ***** and *** **** *****'* *********.

*** ***** *** **** **** **** ** **. **********, ****** it **** ******* ******, *********.

*** ***'* *** ******* / ****** **** *** ********** ** surveillance ******* *** *** ********* ** ** ***** ****. ** the **** *****, **** * ****** *** ***** ***********, ** should ** ******* ***** *** **** ****** *** ********** ** today.

Comments (14)

Most would believe that innovative and commodity products always exist in the same space. There certainly is innovation in the camera industry, and there are always people looking to pay for those innovations. But commoditization is about how the majority market view the products and the industry.

Therefore it comes down to whether customers see a distinction and value in the product advancements being delivered. If they do, then the market stretches beyond the base commodity level and customers willingly pay the premium. If they don't, because of cost or easy of use, then it remains a niche in the space until a time where is it either rendered obsolete because the market moves in a different direction, or eventually gets swallowed up in the commodity side of the business as a value-add.

For the camera industry, a good example of the commodity argument is small commercial applications. If consumers think it is sufficient to buy a residential camera system off the shelf at a big box, then innovations aren't really part of the conversation. Add in low cost manufacturers for the large commercial market pitching a comparable solution, and the innovations started having a real battle.

It reminds me of when I worked in the telco/ISP world when the phone and cable companies started competing using IP. The phone companies wanted to keep charging commercial pricing to small business customers, and those customers began to wonder why they had to pay so much more for what they perceived to be the same as what they got at home. Right or wrong, no technology argument was going to move these customers because in their eyes the question wasn't whether or not to have the latest features or reliability. What they experience at home was "good enough" for them at work, so that was all they needed to know.

Much like this example, the line is being re-drawn in the camera space between value (commodity) offerings and premium (innovate) ones, and the consumers for each are no longer just residential vs. commercial or SMB vs. corporation. The real question is where the line between markets is going to be re-drawn and how much of the market sits on each side.

Therefore it comes down to whether customers see a distinction and value in the product advancements being delivered.

Customers see a distinction and value in new technology like better low light, better WDR, lower bandwidth, etc.

It is the suppliers who are immediately cutting prices even for new technology, so that customers need not pay more.

I do agree there exists 'innovations' that customers simply will not pay - advancements that make little to no practical difference but that's not the case.

Here, I am drawing the distinction that it is the suppliers who are unnecessarily, and somewhat destructively immediately cutting prices on innovations that people would pay for.

Here, I am drawing the distinction that it is the suppliers who are unnecessarily, and somewhat destructively immediately cutting prices on innovations that people would pay for.

If there were only a limited number of players in the market, I would agree. But the camera market is so saturated that there are companies looking for any angle to take share. This competition comes in part because of the exponential hardware improvements throughout the tech landscape, driving down prices fast and allowing almost anyone a chance to get in on the market. Add in the fact that so many things have camera embedded into them, and now you have multiple, previously divergent, marketplaces innovating on the same type of product.

As someone who does not work in the camera space, what I see in this market is very similar to smart phones. There were great advances for years, and there continue to be today. But very quickly, prices dropped and the improvements from model to model "seemed" less revolutionary to the user. That is in part because the hardware is only as good as what the user does with it. That means that until software platforms can turn these innovations into something that advances the user experience in a significant way, the consumer will be less buying for "want" and instead only buy for "need." And that change in mindset is the epitome of commodity.

I would also add that the recent conversations on IPVM regarding selling direct is another example of a commodity market. When the product alone cannot protect a company's market share, then they start looking for alternate ways to protect their margins. And when the consumer isn't willing to pay for the value of those involved in the middle, then it becomes a quick run towards direct to consumer sales.

Despite all these innovations, a number of the larger Chinese manufacturers are hyper aggressive in dropping prices as hard and quickly as possible.

I think it's impossible to seperate the innovation from the race to the bottom, as innovation requires adoption in addition to invention, and adoption is tied directly to the cost of the innovation.

For instance, in the case of true WDR, the innovation is more than the technology involved in creating the image, it's also the processes/technology that was created to manufacturer true WDR cheaper.

If Axis had its way it might still be high-end/niche and therefore less innovative.

Surely the massive Chinese government orders have created the economies of scale that have made these things more affordable to a great number of buyers everywhere, no?

Surely the massive Chinese government orders have created the economies of scale that have made these things more affordable to a great number of buyers everywhere, no?

There are 2 big drivers for cameras over the past decade. Certainly, the Chinese government is one and likely we agree that the Chinese government has reduced prices overall, both by scale and their willingness to subsidize their major companies.

The other driver is the rise of consumer cameras (whether it is cameras on phones or action cameras like GoPro). For something like Ambarella (American company) who has been so key to the development of higher resolution, low light image processing, smart codecs, etc., they have been more driven by the consumer side (like GoPro, for good and now bad) than the Chinese government.

IP camera is running computers; product development is software programming work. It’s labor intensive, not capital intensive. We are short on labor resource here, so you see the Chinese advance, they have more engineers work on RD.

Did I just read a positive story about the state of the industry? !

But seriously, reading this cheered me up a little. I've been somewhat down on the industry of late.

Who do you think is innovating?

China/Tawain/Korea or the rest?

The American chip company Ambarella is certainly one. The sensor companies as well.

Axis was first with super low light (LightFinder), first with smart codecs (Zipstream), first with many different form factors, etc.

And Hikvision has some and is a fast follower and super aggressive at dropping prices.

But, from your implication that it is China/Taiwan/Korea that is innovating and not the rest of the world, is inaccurate. To be clear, when I say innovating, I mean first for new functionalities, dropping prices is disruptive but not in the sense innovation is typically used.

On the other hand, being owned by the Chinese government could be considered an innovation....

To be clear, when I say innovating, I mean first for new functionalities, dropping prices is disruptive but in the sense innovation is typically used.

Yes, but as you once patiently explained to me

Invention is different than innovation. Innovation is when there is actually a major market impact, which [Canon's] financial results and overall production position shows that there has been little of.

So should we consider the first camera manufacturer ever with True WDR the innovator? Or the first one to be able to make it viable for the masses?

Certainly Avigilon has had > 29MP cameras for some time, so should we gush over 8MP resolution today? (Or maybe just that the frame rate is better.)

That's why, in my list above, resolution is conspicuously absent. I do not consider the jump in resolution to be as significant as the other items listed.

As for WDR, there are multiple innovations, the 'first' one (something like Pixim), and then other sensors developed for HD cameras, etc. True WDR is more widely available because sensor and chip manufacturers have innovative, true WDR is being sold for as little as $100 or $200 because of the price wars.

You did mention it here

Even if you narrow it down to just the last year, there have been significant advances in super low light performance, plus sharp drops in bandwidth consumption (smart codecs), and broad availability of 4K / 12MP cameras.

In any event my question about "who do you think is innovating" was not loaded, I see both sides of the inventor vs. popularizer argument.

Cheap cameras today are about as good as expensive cameras used to be, and expensive cameras today are capable of things that would have been science fiction a few years ago. Take it from a guy who started out installing VCRs and multiplexors- this is an amazing time to be in this industry.

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports

Testing Bandwidth Vs. Low Light on Jan 16, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance. Many calculate bandwidth as a single 24/7 number, but bit rates vary...
WDR Tutorial on Jan 11, 2019
Understanding wide dynamic range (WDR) is critical to capturing high quality images in demanding conditions. However, with no real standards, any...
Winter 2019 IP Networking Course on Jan 10, 2019
Today is the last day to register for the Winter 2019 IP Networking course. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video...
Worst Products Tested In Past Year on Jan 09, 2019
IPVM has done over 100 tests in the past year. But which products performed the worst? Which ones should users be most aware of? In this report,...
Managed Video Services UL 827B Examined on Jan 09, 2019
Historically, UL listings for central stations have been important, with UL 827 having widespread support. However, few central stations have...
H.265 / HEVC Codec Tutorial on Jan 08, 2019
H.265 support improved significantly in 2018, with H.265 camera/VMS compatibility increased compared to only a year ago, and most manufacturers...
2019 Video Surveillance Cameras Overview on Jan 07, 2019
Each year, IPVM summarizes the main advances and changes for video surveillance cameras, based on our industry-leading testing and...
IPVM Best New Products 2019 Opened - 70+ Entrants on Jan 07, 2019
The inaugural IPVM Best New Product Awards has been opened - the industry's first and only program where the awards are not pay-to-play and the...
Axis Tailgate Detection Tested on Jan 04, 2019
Axis is aiming to tackle tailgating, one of access control's biggest issues, with the Tailgating Detector ACAP application. This camera app claims...
Surveillance Codec Guide on Jan 03, 2019
Codecs are core to surveillance, with names like H.264, H.265, and MJPEG commonly cited. How do they work? Why should you use them? What issues may...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Mobile Surveillance Trailers Guide on Jan 17, 2019
Putting cameras in a place for temporary surveillance where power and communications are not readily available can be complicated and expensive....
Exacq Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 17, 2019
Exacq favorability amongst integrators has declined sharply, in new IPVM statistics, compared to 2017 IPVM statistics for Exacq. Now, over 5 since...
Testing Bandwidth Vs. Low Light on Jan 16, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance. Many calculate bandwidth as a single 24/7 number, but bit rates vary...
Access Control Records Maintenance Guide on Jan 16, 2019
Weeding out old entries, turning off unused credentials, and updating who carries which credentials is as important as to maintaining security as...
UK Fines Security Firms For Illegal Direct Marketing on Jan 16, 2019
Two UK security firms have paid over $200,000 in fines for illegally making hundreds of thousands of calls to people registered on a government...
Access Control Cabling Tutorial on Jan 15, 2019
Access Control is only as reliable as its cables. While this aspect lacks the sexiness of other components, it remains a vital part of every...
Avigilon Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 15, 2019
Since IPVM's 2017 Avigilon favorability results, the company was acquired by Motorola and has shifted from being an aggressive startup to a more...
Gorilla Technology AI Provider, Raises $15 Million, Profiled on Jan 15, 2019
Gorilla Technology is a Taiwanese video analytics manufacturer that recently announced a $15 million investment from SBI Group, saying this...
2019 IP Networking Book Released on Jan 14, 2019
The new IP Networking Book 2019 is a 285 page in-depth guide that teaches you how IT and telecom technologies impact modern security...
Arecont Costar Layoffs on Jan 14, 2019
Arecont Vision, a Costar Company, has laid off more than 10% of their workforce in a move the company described to IPVM as a result of "important...

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