DANGER: BRS Labs Goes Pre-Crime

By: John Honovich, Published on Oct 03, 2012

Big Brother - A selling point, human rights violation or both? Controversial video analytic supplier BRS Labs is pushing forward with its most aggressive marketing ever, embracing the 'Pre-Crime' mantle of science fiction movies.

Here's the vision of Pre-Crime in the Minority Report movie:

10 year old movie spoiler alert: "The PreCrime program is shut down and the prisoners are unconditionally pardoned and released." Leaving that aside, I suppose...

BRS Labs gained extensive media coverage for their RNC Tampa deployment with numerous publications trumpeting and/or deriding it as a "Pre-Crime" technology (e.g., here, here and here). Now, BRS Labs itself is embracing it in new marketing including the following video:

Powerful Marketing Tool

From a purely short term marketing perspective, a security company selling pre-crime is genius. It generates unprecedented mainstream interest and builds buzz that would cost millions.

The Holy Grail for Security Managers

Even more importantly, pre-crime is the single most valuable thing that any security manager could ever dream of. Here's how security measures rank:

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

  • Lowest / Worst - Solve a crime that has been committed. Downside - the damage is already done and typically cannot be fully (if at all) repaired.
  • Middle / Better - Stop a crime in progress. Much better but may not have enough time to actually stop.
  • Best - Pre-crime, detect a crime before it even occurs. Highest probability of avoiding any damage.

What security manager would not seriously consider a system that could identify crime before it occurred?

High Risk Tactic

The downside for the company is setting unrealistic expectations. While BRS traditionally marketed their technology as detecting abnormalities, the 'pre-crime' messaging is both more powerful and risky.

Lots of things are abnormal, especially to a 2012 video analytics program with limited overall intelligence, yet very few are actually criminal events. Any buyer who thinks they are getting 'pre-crime' is going to be sorely disappointed in a system that generates lots of notifications, few of which are crime. Like the video analytic systems oversold in the past decade, this could result in pilots failing to go to full roll-outs and referrals not being given.

Danger to the Industry

Worse, the UK human rights fiasco demonstrates the downsides of the general public believing the surveillance industry can deliver science fiction. 'Pre-crime' may be the worst possible type as it taps into deep fears of profiling, presumptions of guilt before innocence and Big Brother.

If it truly worked, perhaps the resulting surge in adoption would compensate, but it has far more potential to hurt the industry overall than help.

Good Move for BRS Overall

All this noted, we think this is a sharp move by BRS. Nearly 4 years after they burst onto the scene claiming to be imminently acquired for up to $1 Billion dollars, earlier this year a BRS Labs investor letter revealed the company remained in a cash shortflow, needed more funding and had modest revenue levels compared to their continuous projections for mega growth and success.

Given this position, BRS does not have much to lose but they have a ton to gain if they can compel buyers with pre-crime excitement. Hopefully the collateral damage to the industry will be minimal while BRS capitalizes on this marketing gold.

[UPDATE: This "Hail Mary" did not succeed. BRS Labs has significantly repositioned itself with heavy layoffs.

2 reports cite this report:

City Video Surveillance Guide on Jun 08, 2015
This 31-page guide explains the key uses, design factors, and players in the City Surveillance market. A global group of 60 integrators...
iCetana Video Analytics on Nov 10, 2014
In the US, BRS Labs has been the poster boy for outsized marketing. However, BRS Labs' core claim of behavorial recognition does have value if it...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

ZeroEyes Gun Detection Startup on Jul 16, 2019
A gun detection video analytics startup, ZeroEyes, is being led by a group of 6 former Navy SEALs, aiming to "save lives" by using AI to assist...
Bosch Integrating Sony Video Security Sales And Marketing Team on Jul 03, 2019
What is the future of Sony in video surveillance? In 2016, Bosch and Sony announced an atypical 'partnership'. Now, Bosch tells IPVM that they...
Directory of 60 Video Surveillance Startups on Jun 25, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
IFSEC 2019 Show Report on Jun 19, 2019
The UK's largest trade show, IFSEC, is underway and IPVM has been examining what is new and happening at the show. Inside, we cover: Huawei...
ADT Eliminating Acquired Brands, Unifying Under 'Commercial' Brand on Jun 14, 2019
ADT is eliminating the brands of the many integrators it has acquired over the past few years, including Red Hawk, Aronson Security Group (ASG),...
Nortek and SDS Fight Over Failed Settlement on Jun 05, 2019
Distributor SDS said they reached a deal with Nortek but Nortek says no settlement was reached and the suit is still on. In this post, based on...
Verkada Favorability Results 2019 on May 29, 2019
Verkada has taken the industry by storm with the fastest growing video surveillance sales organization ever and a half billion dollar valuation....
Security / Privacy Journalist Sam Pfeifle Interview on May 24, 2019
Sam Pfeifle is best known as the outspoken former Editor of Security Systems News. After that, he was publications director at the International...
Dahua USA Celebrates 5 Years of Errors on May 22, 2019
Dahua USA is, in their own words, 'celebrating' 5 years in North America or as trade magazine SSN declared: Dahua Technology finds success in...
Amazon Ring Public Subsidy Program Aims To Dominate Residential Security on May 20, 2019
Amazon dominates market after market. Quitely, but increasingly, they are doing so in residential security, through a combination of significant...

Most Recent Industry Reports

History of Video Surveillance on Jul 19, 2019
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going from VCRs to emerging into an AI cloud era.  The goal of this history...
Mobile Access Usage Statistics 2019 on Jul 18, 2019
The ability to use mobile phones as access credentials is one of the biggest trends in a market that historically has been slow in adopting new...
New GDPR Guidelines for Video Surveillance Examined on Jul 18, 2019
The highest-level EU data protection authority has issued a new series of provisional video surveillance guidelines. While GDPR has been in...
Wyze AI Analytics Tested - Beats Axis and Hikvision on Jul 17, 2019
$20 camera disruptor Wyze has released free person detection deep learning analytics to all of their users, claiming users will "Only get notified...
Anyvision Aims For 2022 Revenue of $1 Billion on Jul 17, 2019
Only 3 video surveillance manufacturers do a billion dollars or more in annual revenue - Hikvision, Dahua, and Axis. Now, Anyvision plans to join...
HD Analog vs IP Guide on Jul 16, 2019
For years, HD resolution and single cable signal/power were IP camera advantages, with analog cameras limited to much lower resolution and...
How To Troubleshoot Wiegand Reader Problems - Inverted Wiring on Jul 16, 2019
Wiegand is the dominant method of connecting access readers, but problems can arise for installers. In fact, one of the most difficult reader...
ZeroEyes Gun Detection Startup on Jul 16, 2019
A gun detection video analytics startup, ZeroEyes, is being led by a group of 6 former Navy SEALs, aiming to "save lives" by using AI to assist...
Motorola Acquires Watchguard, Adds to Vigilant And Avigilon on Jul 15, 2019
2 years ago, Motorola had no position nor relevancy to video surveillance. Now, they own major video surveillance, LPR and body camera providers...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Jul 15, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...

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