Riskiest Companies 2009 - BRS Labs and TimeSight

Author: John Honovich, Published on Sep 09, 2009

BRS Labs and TimeSight are likely the riskiest video surveillance companies.

With extensive marketing campaigns and multiple awards received from questionable award programs, they are creating a lot of noise and obscuring significant risks.

Extreme Marketing Claims

Both have extreme marketing positions; TimeSight claims 90%+ storage cost reduction and BRS Labs contends a new form of video analytics which virtually eliminates false alarms.

Storage claims are easy to make based on assuming metrics on cameras, codecs, storage duration, etc that have limited applicability or are simply unrealistic.

Bogus video analytics claims are common as many companies have proven over the last decade.

Extreme marketing claims are easy to do if you are ignorant or unethical enough to make them. Where's the independent proof? BRS has none. Timesight's VMS has a negative review from the PSA [updated 9/11: and no detailed comparative analysis on storage savings vs. other systems in typical deployment scenarios - see our recommended evalaution criteria (premium)].

Specific Product Concerns

[updated 9/14: In the comments, we have discussed a number of specific product concerns. These are summarized below to make it easier to understand the risks]

Timesight:

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TimeSight's product claims suffer from 2 main risks:

  • The product's storage claims are significantly overstated for almost all surveillance deployment. TimeSight assumes the use of only MJPEG megapixel cameras for 3 - 24 month recording compared to VMS systems with no storage optimization and continuous recording. By contrast, the use of more typical assumptions, like H.264 megapixel cameras, a high percentage of analog or SD cameras and the activation of competitor's storage optimization, TimeSight's claims would not be very impressive.
  • TimeSight is being praised for its storage optimization but it's overall VMS performance is questionable (including the PSA's statement that TimeSight is "an extended storage solution versus a video management solution." However, TimeSight must be competitive as a VMS system because it is incompatible with other VMS systems.

BRS Labs

BRS Lab's products claims suffer from 2 main risks:

  • BRS Labs sometimes claim they detect abnormal behavior without rules and other times that they do traditional video analytics (perimeter detection, abandoned object, etc.). If they are just doing the later (traditional video analytics) or their use cases can be solved by traditional video analytics, there's lot of other options out there that work fairly well, less expensive and integrate well with existing VMS/PSIM systems. In this scenario, there's nothing much interesting about BRS and should not win any awards.
  • BRS Labs is drawing attention and winning awards for abnormal behavior detection. There's no independent published proof of how well this works (false negatives/false positives, environmental issues, etc.). Abnormal behavior detection without rules is a very hard technology to implement for production level security systems (especially if the costs for high end servers and software are to be kept at levels that users can pay - not $3,000-5,000 USD per camera, etc).

Strong, Large Competitors

Both enter established markets with competitors that have developed sophisticated products with extensive field deployments, numerous features and integration with large numbers of 3rd party systems.

Timesight and BRS Labs are nowhere close to the level of their direct competitors (companies like Milestone and Genetec for Timesight and ObjectVideo and ioimage for BRS Labs) [updated 9/12: in overall features, maturity of product and support for third party systems].

Their core claimed advantages are questionable and what they lack in comparison is significant.

Refused to do Independent Tests

Both BRS and Timesight have refused my repeated requests to perform an independent, unpaid, hands-on test of their product. [Plus, I have spoken with both companies repeteadly over the last year and the only independent test publicly available is the PSA one for TimeSight].

Update 9/11: Companies that leverage aggressive marketing claims, face stiff competition and base their validation on questionable awards are, by definition, risky. These criteria all fit BRS Labs and TimeSight.

4 reports cite this report:

Investments & Acquisitions Directory 2011 on Dec 26, 2010
This directory provides a single source of information on funding and acquisitions in the video surveillance market. It is part of our Video...
Readers Respond: 134 Votes, 25 Comments Examined on Feb 14, 2010
Over 100 people voted and more than 25 left detailed comments to our recent question/discussion. In this post, we review and respond to the...
BRS Labs Layoffs and Skepticism Mount on Dec 04, 2009
Revelations of problems and concerns with video analytics up-start BRS Labs is mounting. An investigative report by the Houston Chronicle on BRS...
Is the Web Replacing Security Magazines and Shows? on Sep 27, 2009
While ASIS show attendance was down and disappointing for the second consecutive year, online traffic to security websites continues to rise...

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