Cohu's CCTV/Surveillance Product Offering Examined

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jul 21, 2009

Cohu is a specialist manufacturer for high-end monitoring applications. They are probably best known for their traffic management product offerings. Additionally, Cohu offers a line of ruggedized cameras for industrial and other demanding use. The most interesting new product coming from Cohu is a ruggedized 720p HD H.264 PTZ camera.

At the same time, Cohu's products are not a general puprose or mass market offering. While there are certain applications their cameras may be a strong fit (such as transit, industrial, military), their products can be 'overkill' and too expensive for average commercial or office use.

[Note: this is the first in a series of company/product overviews of niche product offerings. Contact me with recommendations for other companies to cover.]

Company Overview

Cohu Cameras is a subsidiary of Cohu, Inc, a publicly traded company with 2008 annual sales of $200 M uSD and a market capitalization of $234 M USD (see stock information). The Cohu Cameras division generated approximately $20 M USD, making them a mid-sized video surveillance manufacturer.

Within the camera division, about 50% of revenue comes from security products, about 40%  from Transit products and the balance from machine vision. 

The company primarily markets in North America. Cohu Cameras has 6 regional sales managers who are focused on application design. The company sells through traditional security channel of integrators and dealers.

Product Offerings

Cohu's highest selling product is their analog 3960 iView. Key features for transit application include:

  • Pressurized / IP-67
  • NEMA TS2 extended temperature range
  • Wider range of power 80 - 130 V (handle spikes and brownouts)
  • Up to 1/2 second complete power lost
  • Shock and high vibration
  • ntcip protocol support (important for transit)

This camera provides pan, tilt and zoom controls through the use of a mechanical arm where the base of the unit is mounted below the camera. This is the opposite of the more common speeddome architecture.

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A key benefit of this is that the camera can look up and see objects above the camera's positioning. A key drawback is that people being watched can see where the camera is looking. For surveillance, this can be a problem. However, for transit (where this camera is routinely used), it is seen as an advantage as it makes public where the camera is viewing.

Another variance between this form factor and speed domes is the smaller dome/window size. The 3960's small window can be cleaned by an integrated wiper.

The MSRP for the camera ranges from $4,000 USD to $5,000 USD (depending on exact model). 

Their next-generation version of this product is the 3960HD, a 720p H.264, 30fps camera.

Cohu's IP devices are currently supported by their own VMS, Vidsys, IPVision and 360 Surveillance.

Another noteworthy product from Cohu is their long range surveillance camera lines. These products offer lens up to 1.5 Meters (1500mm). This provides imaging over extremely long range (multiple miles). Note: the f-stop of the lenses can be high (f3.8 or higher for the longest range lenses) so low light imaging will be difficult.

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