Should You Use Auto-Tracking PTZs?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Sep 24, 2008

Though available for many years, Auto-Tracking PTZs are generating renewed interest with Axis' recent release of their 233D camera.  The claim is that "auto-tracking enables a single PTZ dome camera to cover a large area and to automatically detect, follow and record video of moving persons or vehicles."

Auto-Tracking has never become an widely adopted feature despite its introduction and marketing by various manufacturers.  The question then becomes: should you use it and where should you use it?

Below view a video of Axis demonstrating auto-tracking PTZ functionality or download the clip.  After, we will consider its value.

The demo provides a very honest portrayal of the key issues involved in setting up and using auto-tracking PTZs. Essentially, the tracking is designed to track the object with the most movement or greatest size.  There are some major drawbacks including:

  • The feature can track irrelevant objects like flags or other uninteresting moving objects.
  • The feature can switch tracking from a relevant to an irrelevant object simply because the second object was bigger.
  • These problems increase as the size of the area and the amount of activity increases.  For instance, this would likely work extremely poorly in a football stadium parking lot during game day as hundreds of cars and people move around.
As such, it seems this feature is likely most useful in small areas with light traffic.  This is where I have used this feature with other camera manufacturer's in the past.  Often, we wind up turning it off because the camera made mistakes and the security manager found setting a wide field of view preset or a continuous pan to be the least confusing setup for the PTZ.

Today, I would prefer to use a 2MP - 5MP camera for the type of scenario pictured in this demo.  Rather than risk the problems of incorrectly tracking, the megapixel camera guarantees evidence across the entire area.  Operators can then use digital zooms either in real time or for investigations to get exactly the image they need.

Even on a cost basis, a megapixel camera plus the addiitonal storage is no more expensive than a PTZ.  For instance, the 233D costs about $3,000 USD while a megapixel camera costs around $1,000 with an extra $2,000 or so for more storage.

I see this as part of the general trend why megapixel is gaining rapid acceptance and positive satisfaction while video analytics are still dealing with accuracy and optimization issues.  While megapixel does not offer as much as video analytics, what it does it does well.  The reduced risk and increased simplicity spurs uptake.  I see this as the better choice to auto-tracking PTZs.  Thoughts?

Related Reports on PTZs

Camera Course Summer 2017 on Jun 08, 2017
Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live online classes, recorded videos, personal help, cutting edge education and...
Panoramic Camera Usage Rising 2017 on May 08, 2017
Panoramic camera usage (including fisheye and multi-imagers) continue to rise rapidly. However, the race to the bottom is hindering even stronger...
Security Consultants Speak Episode 1 - Protus3 on Oct 21, 2016
This is a first of a series of conversations with security consultants. If you are a security consultant that wants to talk and can share frank...
PTZ Camera Guide 2016 on Sep 15, 2016
Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras remain critical parts of many surveillance systems, especially in large security operations. Because of this it is important...
Axis Laser Focus PTZ Camera Examined on Sep 08, 2016
How do you make a PTZ focus better and faster? If you are Axis, you add a laser to it. In this report, we examine Axis' new Q6155-E, looking at...
Panoramic Camera (Fisheye / Multi-Imager) Guide on Aug 31, 2016
Panoramic cameras, including fisheyes and multi-imagers, have become increasingly widespread, with most manufacturers offering fisheyes and an...
Hikvision ~$300 Mini PTZ Tested on Jul 08, 2016
A PTZ camera at fixed dome prices? That is the promise of Hikvision's new DS-2DE2103, a compact PTZ with 3x optical zoom in a package smaller than...
$260 IR Outdoor 'Speeddome' Tested on Apr 20, 2016
Just $260 for an outdoor 'speeddome' form factor with integrated IR, wireless, HD video and more? Pricing has certainly come down (e.g., we...
Hikvision IR PTZ Tested on Mar 07, 2016
Hikvision continues to break low cost barriers, now with a 1080p IP IR PTZ for under $800 online, the DS-2DE5220I-AE, half the price of past...
Bosch IR PTZ Tested on Feb 26, 2016
PTZs have historically struggled in low light, with integrated IR being uncommon. In the past few years, this has changed, as some integrated IR...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Startup Replacing Passwords With Patterns (Shayype) on Jun 28, 2017
This startup, Shayype, aims to eliminate passwords, replacing them with patterns. Problems with passwords are clear, as simple passwords, re-used...
NRF 2017 Exhibits Traffic Weak on Jun 28, 2017
The 'retail apocalypse' is not sparing the security industry. The National Retail Federation's Protect 2017's exhibit traffic is weak, notably...
Top 5 Improvements For Manufacturer Sales People on Jun 28, 2017
Manufacturer sales people are very important to integrators, but it takes more than just punching a clock to be successful and truly valuable to...
Avigilon VP Communications Exits on Jun 27, 2017
In 2016, Avigilon hired an executive, Darren Seed to: build and maintain strategic relationships with the investment community and to...
Hikvision H.265+ Tested on Jun 27, 2017
Hikvision, which in the past few years released H.264+ (see test results) has now released H.265+, that claims even greater bandwidth savings. We...
Milestone / Canon Launch Cloud Startup Arcus Global on Jun 27, 2017
Milestone has spun off a business, Arcus Global, funded by their parent company Canon. The new company aims to transform the VSaaS market with an...
Biometrics Pros and Cons For Electronic Access Control on Jun 26, 2017
Biometrics has been long sought as an alternative to the security risks of cards, pins and passwords. While biometrics has improved somewhat over...
Manufacturer Sales People Are Very Important - Statistics on Jun 26, 2017
IPVM's new integrator statistics show what sales people say regularly: Sales people are very important. From 150 integrator...
No Personal Opinions About Work on Jun 26, 2017
One rising trend is the tendency for people to disclaim their statements on work related topics as their own 'opinions' or 'personal...
Importance of Sales To Integrators - Statistics on Jun 23, 2017
One of the top trends in the industry over the past few years has been the rise of across-the-board sales (e.g.: Hikvision Sales, Dahua Sale,...

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