Low Cost Radar / Analytics Replacement (SpotterRF)

By Ethan Ace, Published Sep 05, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

Outdoor detection is critical to security but video analytics have disappointed due to high false alarms. Seeking to overcome this, SpotterRF has announced the C40 surveillance radar, targeted at commercial deployments, claiming larger coverage area and better detection than analytics can provide. In this note, we look at this new entry, its features and integrations, and compare to existing radar offerings and video analytics

Overview

--The SpotterRF C40 [link no longer available] is a compact radar unit operating in the microwave X band (10.525 GHz unlicensed), with the following key features:

  • Range: The C40 is capable of covering an elliptical region measuring 350m x 300m, equal to about 20 acres. This region may be reduced by adjusting the power output of the unit. This range is affected by obstacles such as thick foliage, outbuildings, and terrain, so these factors must be taken into account when locating the unit to reduce blind spots.
  • Web interface: Setup and monitoring are both performed via standard web browser. Up to 20 simultaneous objects are tracked real-time with GPS coordinates on a Google Maps satellite view. Access to all settings, including network, GPS, calibration, and alert data is provided through this interface.
  • PoE powered: The C40 is powered via passive power over Ethernet (similar to Ubiquiti wireless devices). This is uncommon among radar systems, which typically consume larger amounts of power. Additionally, using PoE, integration of the C40 in wireless systems is simplified somewhat, as no low-voltage power supply is required at the device location, reducing equipment.
  • Integration: The SpotterRF C40 outputs object location data via IP, and an open API is provided for integration to third party systems, to move PTZ cameras to a tracked object's location. However, no integrations are complete, though some are underway with VMS and PSIM systems.

The C40 is planned for release in Q4 2012, with an MSRP around $12,000 USD.

This image shows the tracker display of the C40, with the red ellipse representing the coverage area, and colored squares showing tracked objects:

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Competitive Options

We see two main competitors for the C40:

  • Video analytics: The C40 is most likely more economical than video analytics for tracking objects over large areas. VideoIQ's iCVR HD [link no longer available], for example, has a maximum detection range of about 625' according to their design documents [link no longer available], less than half the range of the C40, requiring more cameras be used to cover the same area, and likely remotely located, driving up installation cost. Using SightLogix's geo-locating analytics with Thermal SightSensor cameras, they claim humans may be spotted moving toward the camera at 340m, similar to the C40, but across a narrow 13ยบ horizontal field of view. A SightSensor with this range likely costs as much or more than the C40, covering less area, ranging in price from $9,995 to $23,995 MSRP.
  • Competitive ground-based radar: Compared to currently available radar systems, SpotterRF is generally less expensive. Other systems may cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, but may also have much longer detection range, miles in some cases, as opposed to 350m. Additionally, since these systems are already available, and likely more mature platforms, integrations to surveillance and command and control systems may already be available, unlike the C40.

Potential impact

The main attraction will be the relatively low cost for a radar system that covers a moderately large area. However, assuming the radar works, the main limitation will be the lack of PTZ, VMS and PSIM integration. While we see many will consider the technology, if and until they can deliver appropriate integrations, widespread use will be limited.

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