ONVIF Profile S Reviewed

By Ethan Ace, Published Feb 05, 2012, 07:00pm EST

More than 1500 products are now ONVIF compliant [link no longer available] but users cannot easily determine which features are supported by any given product. Features which many users would consider vital, such as PTZ control, the ability to change stream settings, and more, are considered optional under current specs. In order to address these concerns, ONVIF introduced a Profile system.

What do these profiles mean and how will this impact your use of ONVIF? In this update, we look at Profile S, the first to be released, what it supports, and how this differs from the current standard.

Profile S Overview

Profile S [link no longer available] lists features which manufacturers must conform to in order to be listed as Profile S compliant. The core advantage of Profile S is that conformance to this is a much higher standard than simply being core ONVIF compliant.

Mandatory: All devices claiming Profile S conformance must support RTSP streaming of MJPEG video, configuration of video stream settings, user authentication, and checking of device capabilities (essentially which features the device supports).

Conditional: This might be the most useful aspect of Profile S. Today, a PTZ can claim ONVIF compliance and not support PTZ controls via ONVIF. Now, with Profile S, devices that support certain features must support the ONVIF implementation to say they are Profile S. Features in this list include PTZ control, H.264 streaming, audio streaming, multicast, relay outputs, NTP support, and more.

Optional features: No features under Profile S are completely optional, but a number are listed as optional for clients. Mostly, these consist of deeper integration between camera and client, such as the ability to create and remove PTZ presets, instead of the client simply reading and using PTZ presets set in the camera.

A Major Step Forward

Profile S compliance has the potential to be far more informative than basic ONVIF compliance. We recommend that users look for Profile S as it becomes adopted over the next year.

If manufacturers wish to be listed as Profile S-conformant, common features such as I/O integration, audio, metadata streaming and PTZ control are no longer optional, as they are under the core ONVIF spec. If a camera supports any of these features, they must be integrated according to the Profile S specifications. While these features are not optional for Profile S, manufacturers may still implement the baseline specification, and be listed as ONVIF compliant.

Note that PTZ control is still not quite universal, as different manufacturers implement PTZ positioning differently. Absolute versus relative positioning is the most fundamental difference, though handling of presets, home position, and auxilliaries may differ as well. Profile S allows for this, and clients must be able to detect which of these features are supported or not by each camera.

Finding Compliant Devices

We asked ONVIF how users would be able to find Profile S-conformant products. Here is their answer:

"The intention is that the list of conformant products [link no longer available] on the ONVIF web shall be possible to filter according to profiles. With the new Test Tool released at the end of December 2011 a supported feature list is now automatically generated by the tool and manufacturers are required to provide it to the ONVIF office at the same time as the DoC to be added to the list. We will gradually add search options to the ONVIF webpage to allow someone to search only for device implementing PTZ support or IO, for example."

We do not know when this will be added but it should be quite useful when it is.

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