Critiquing Mobotix's Video / Access Integration ClaimsBy: Ethan Ace, Published on Apr 18, 2012
Now more than ever, Mobotix is touting the benefits of integrating access control and video surveillance with their T24 IP door station. This is especially important as this line is a cornerstone of Mobotix's growth strategy and expansion. In an SD&I promotional article [link no longer available], Mobotix makes the case for this integration.
We think the case is significantly flawed. The following two points madeare the most objectionable:
- Analog technologies' lack of value: "Door stations with integrated cameras have been around for years, but these systems have been based on analog technology. This restricts the value such a system can bring: Video images are not clear and limited two-way communication is available."
- Market demand: "Both residential and SMB markets are primed for an IP-based solution that integrates access control and video surveillance."
Analog vs. IP Claims
The first issue lies in the claim that analog door stations are somehow limited. This claim is made regarding video, as well as audio, neither of which are true:
- Video images are not clear: While there may be advantages to megapixel video or ultra-wide fields of view, to say that analog video provides unclear images in inaccurate. Door station cameras are built for a specific purpose, providing clear images of subjects close to the camera, typically in a 70-90º field of view. This often results in objects in the background being blurry, creating the perception that the camera is low-quality. Across fields of view this small, 640x480 resolution regularly provides identification-quality resolution.
- Limited two-way communication: As we discussed in our door intercom tutorial, numerous methods are available for voice communication, including dedicated hardware or software-based master stations, telephone-connected door stations in VOIP or analog versions, and integration with audio controls in VMS systems. By contrast, users of the T24 may use only Mobotix software, web browser, or SIP phones for communication.
Vertical Market Demand
The residential and SMB markets are not ready for this. Despite residential audio/video doorphones being available for years, for as little as $200 USD [link no longer available] (versus the T24's $800+ online price for the camera module alone), very few residential customers have installed any sort of audio/video door entry system. Given the T24's pricing and the complexity of Mobotix products, we do not see this as a good fit for the market, where DIY is prevalent. It is more likely that users will spend this money on multiple cameras on their property.
In the SMB market, price is still a barrier to adoption. However, an even larger issue is Mobotix's limited integration with third-party systems. Many small and medium businesses have existing surveillance or access control systems. The T24's integration with these systems will be limited, at best, with most video systems not performing necessary dewarping of the panoramic image, nor recognizing the audio or I/O of the door station. Further, the T24's on-board RFID reader is managed separately, and cannot be integrated to third-party access control systems. Users wishing to gain the benefits of integrating all of these systems (see our door intercom tutorial for more information) will likely turn elsewhere.
While we disagree with the above claims, we feel that there is potential for an IP-based door station such as the T24:
- Increased resolution: A higher-quality camera, while not strictly necessary, would allow the station to be used for more general surveillance tasks, since it may capture a wider FOV with higher resolution. However, use of panoramics for this purpose is also problematic, as dewarping support by mainstream VMS players is still very limited, though slowly improving.
- Better integration: Almost all current options require encoders in order to integrate video, audio, and I/O to VMS systems. A fully IP-based system with wider support (or Mobotix improving integrations with third-party VMSs) would reduce cost and complexity.