Mobotix Founder Out, Company Embracing Open Platform

Author: Brian Karas, Published on Oct 13, 2016

The founder of Mobotix, Dr. Ralf Hinkel, is out of Mobotix, just 7 months after the company was acquired by Konica-Minolta. With his departure, Mobotix is shifting its market approach and embracing a more open one.

We spoke with Mobotix about changes happening at the company and share details in this report.

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Comments (22)

I have wanted to use Mobotix for years, but their closed system was always a deterrent. It looks like we will be taking a second (or 10th) look at them.

I've never been able to get past the fuggly look of their cameras...

I've never been able to get past the fuggly look of their cameras...

Neither can criminals ;)

I agree. Their features always interested me but the camera always reminded me of a snow owl.

Put a mustache on it! We used a full length plastic skeleton, padded and dressed up in a guard uniform, hung it from the camera, slapped a red mustache on the camera and used it as a marketing tool for a golf tournament. Makes the camera much more "relate-able" :)

I found the female voice with the German accent a bit interesting.

You really can't look at Mobotix as just a camera solution. They do so much more with the integrated PIR, SIP and various other sensors. Cameras are built very well but they are just so complicated to setup and difficult for the end user to use. Looking forward to see them add H.264 as an option with better integrations with 3rd party VMS solutions.

It's surprising how much better (and smaller) they look once installed on a building facade or pole. The less conventional form factor, dynamic LED's and built-in 2-way audio is a differentiator that we have gotten great feedback on. Plenty of features packed into 'just another IP camera'. Of course, some people just can't get over the physical design, to each his own. The dual lens M15 is extremely versatile in the right hands. The learning curve associated with the Mobotix decentralized approach can actually be a competitive advantage when everyone and their mother is pushing Avigilon, Hikvision and Axis. If you are seeking out a 'turnkey' solution or are transitioning into IP from analog then run for the hills from Mobotix.

Hallelugah!

Mobotix finally found their reset button.

Dr. Hinkel was awesome, I am sad to see him go. I gnerally have a softspot for Mobotix. I have found them to have great staff and generally very responsive. The products certainly are different but they are cool in their own way. Generally people who use mobotix are very loyal to the brand.

I would like to see these cameras built with better processing power to allow for higher frame rates. The low frame rates at high resolution is something that really lets their cameras down. With H.264 support i think it is a good thing however it will certainly reduce the image quality of the mobotix cameras.

I also consider mobotic cameras more robust than most others. i would comfortably put a mobotix camera almost anywhwere. Freezers, cars, hot areas, etc etc. They really are a good camera.

Mobotix also have some great employees. Dr. Tristan Haage is a extremely intelligent person and I trust that with the right product to work with that he would be able to create a global strategy that will see mobotix become more mainstream.

I would be interested to see some posts from some of the mobotix guys to hear what they think of the departure of Dr Hinkel.

With H.264 support i think it is a good thing however it will certainly reduce the image quality of the mobotix cameras.

Respectfully, you've been brainwashed. There is nothing inherently better about the quality of MJPEG (or MxPEG) than h.264.

Depends on the settings. And when the quality is set to be the same between them, the storage will several times as large for the *PEG codecs.

Higher compression equates to lower video quality, there is always a cost-benefit to the varying video codecs.

Higher compression equates to lower video quality...

By that logic MJPEG is higher quality than MxPEG, no?

True, MJPEG is uncompressed and therefor represents the highest storage demands. Ever wonder why Go Pro video looks so good and burns through an SD card so quickly, it's straight MJPEG. Smart codecs are only going to get better as the market progresses and I'm certainly not saying MxPeg is the 'king' of codecs. When it comes to security video, mitigating motion blur is key and MxPeg is quite effective with regards to that (each frame is equally compressed, no I-frames or P-frames). Let the record show that proprietary codecs can be a kick in the balls for integrators when it comes to system migration especially on the enterprise scale. I personally love Mobotix for many of the reasons that are off-putting to others, it will be interesting to see how 'open' they really make their platform.

GoPro burns through an SD card quick because it's typically 60FPS or 120FPS, but it's H.264. I just analyzed a clip from my GoPro Hero3 and it's 1080p60 with a bitrate of of 30 Mb/s, which is insane by typical surveillance standards.

Codec info from that stream:

Please excuse my Go Pro ignorance, just got mine haha.

...MJPEG is uncompressed...

...Motion JPEG (M-JPEG or MJPEG) is a video compression format in which each video frame or interlaced field of a digital video sequence is compressed separately as a JPEG image. Wiki

Nonsense. Higher compression _efficiency_ equals better image quality at the same bitrate. You can make a JPEG look as good as H.264, but at a much higher bitrate (i.e. cost). A GoPro would not work with JPEG. It is 100% H.264. Try use MxPEG in a GoPro ;-).

Mobotix clever way at the time was that MxPEG is a leightweight algorithm to code JPEG frame differences which can run on an inexpensive embedded CPU or a small fpga. Before cheap H.264 SOCs became available they had an edge. In addition, before hardware H.264 decoding, decoding MxPEG at the VMS used less CPU cycles.

Differential encoding like MxPEG works fine on static scenes, but if you pan the camera or have movement (i.e. cars, people), H.264 will result in better quality /lower bitrate. I have yet to see any apples to apples comparison (same bitrate) between MxPEG and H.264. Did IPVM ever do this?

My theory for Mobotix giving up now is that 4K is coming, and bitrates and storage space will be unmanageable with MxPEG.

I have heard Mobotix people claim that H.264 is bad as it creates blocky artifacts and interpolates motion causing blur, whereas JPEG and MxPEG are "true frames". This is false. H.264 also uses differential coding but adds ways to further improve compression of moving objects by coding them based on the difference with a previous similar reference block and motion vector translation. It does not add, subtract, or interpolate. If there are blocky artifacts it is because the bitrate ceiling is too low, and MxPEG would most likely be more blocky at that same bitrate.

I have yet to see any apples to apples comparison (same bitrate) between MxPEG and H.264. Did IPVM ever do this?

No, because even years ago, this was never a real point of contention in the general market, just a fringe belief of the small Mobotix 'community'.

We do like to test lots of things but MxPEG was never big enough in the overall market to justify testing.

Wavestore's Open Platform VMS has supported the MxPEG protocol for many years and together fulfilled many projects. Wavestore also developed its client dewarping capability for the Q24/Q25 cameras (and the ability to mount the camera at any angle). Support for the camera alarms is also a standard feature with fast event search.

Let me point out what’s right with Mobotix and getting better all the time.

The Mobotix camera system outperforms most all other cameras for remote outdoor locations that lack utilities infrastructure. There are many reasons why, here are a few of them.

Remote locations typically require a fully autonomous live camera system that includes a VMS and storage on-board the camera. Mobotix has an embedded VMS and up to 200GB SD storage.

No moving parts = maximum reliability. No housings, fans or heaters required. Each individual Mobotix camera is fully tested at the factory under extreme cold and heat conditions prior to shipping. For remote applications, it’s important to have the most reliable camera system possible, as a service call to a remote location can cost many thousands of dollars.

Cameras are available with dual lens, 6mp black/white, color or thermal image sensors with lens angles from 8 degrees to 180 degrees. Thermal image sensors can identify humans up to 1400’ away under zero light conditions, see this video.

A single Mobotix camera can function as a fully autonomous real-time live high definition video and audio system and perform many functions such as general security and surveillance, intrusion detection and time-lapse videos. Mobotix offers I/O modules and interface boxes that allow for complex integrations of incoming and outgoing devices. The onboard motion analysis system is very good.

With very low power requirement of 5-7 watts, Mobotix is ideal to power with solar electric.

A single camera can operate with just power applied. No computer is required, no software is required, no network connections or internet required for it to operate.

Because of the above features, Mobotix cameras are ideal for battery powered rapid deployment solutions.

Thermal image sensors can identify detect humans up to 1400’ away under zero light conditions

I have always been a fan of the hardware but the software is another story.

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