The Importance of Simplicity for Video Analytics: Exploring ioimage

By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 30, 2008

Maximizing simplicity will be a critical factor in IP Video success. In the early days, having a feature was enough. Now, with so many providers and IP trying to go mainstream, the importance of achieving simplicity will be paramount. I will use ioimage as a case study to examine how simplicity can be successfully employed.

[UPDATE: DVTel acquired ioimage in 2010.]

Simplicity Vital to Technology

The drive for simplicity is part of a much broader trend in all of technology. Technological success demands simplicity. The economics demands this. Complex solutions require human attention and labor. People are incredibly expensive. Even outsourcing is far more expensive than a technological solution that is truly automated.

Take Google for example. Google offers an incredibly simple user interface and incredibly simple way to find your result. Every request is automatically handled by networks of computers. Yet underneath the simple exterior is incredibly complexity. Nevertheless, the underlying complexity eliminates the need for human response to search requests while allowing you to get results to an incredibly varied range of requests. This is the paradox of complex simplicity at work.

The same goes for Apple products. The iPhone and the iPod are incredibly easy to use and yet they demand amazing engineering complexity to deliver such results. Yet the results are quite similar to Google – great satisfaction, minimal user effort and little human involvement.

The Challenge for Video Surveillance

Security managers have long accepted the potential of video analytics. The challenges have turned to more tactical and operational issues such as:

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

  • How well does it work? 
  • How hard is it to make work?
  • How hard is it to obtain?
  • How hard is to make work with what I have?

Just like 'anyone' can build an MP3 player, the value in delivering in video analytics is not so much in detecting objects but in solving the tactical and operational issues around delivering such a solution.

Let's examine how IoImage executed on each objective:

How Well Does it Work?

A number of strong indicators point to ioimage working well in the field. Among industry insiders, ioimage is very frequently cited as a company who stuff 'works.' This has been my experience both in my close personal circle and with broader industry acquaintances. Further testament to it is the dozen plus customer press releases ioimage has issued. My experience is that customer press releases are very strong signs about the quality of a new product or technology. Not only does it indicate you have a customer, the customer is usually happy or they would be reluctant to go public with a release. While not having customer press releases does not indict a company, having customer press releases is definitely a bullish sign.

Nevertheless, what makes a product work well is more important than press releases or talk. Let's examine key design decisions that foster simplicity and higher performance in ioimage.

ioimage optimizes their solution for a single platform. While many video analytic systems offer their software on multiple vendor's PCs, DVRs, cameras and encoders, ioimage only provides analytics on its own cameras and encoders. Of course this limits customer flexibility. However, such constraints often make products simpler, more usable and more optimized to the task at hand. Indeed, a popular adage in the software development community is, ““Constraints are liberating.” Let us examine two ways this approach can make video analytics work better.

  • Focus Allows Maximization: Because IoImage only runs on one platform, a DSP, the entire solution can be optimized for it. By contrast, many video analytic systems are designed to run on one platform (e.g., ObjectVideo was first designed for PCs) and then transferred to run on another (e.g., TI's Da Vinci). While transferring to different platforms (i.e., porting) provides flexibility in customer platform selection, implementation issues between different platforms can significantly limit performance. Because ioimage started and focuses solely on a DSP solution, it can maximize the solution for that platform.
  • Control Maximizes Performance: A key factor in the success of an iPod is that Apple designed the entire solution. It controls all aspects of the hardware and software. Apple does not need to worry about differences in hardware specifications or setup on different devices. It can stringently handle and confidently solve problems across the entire product. In this sense, the IoImage is like an iPod because ioimage can control and ensure that it solves problems end to end. By contrast, with the popular alternative model (loading software on third party devices), the video analytic vendor has serious constraints on optimizations and could suffer from problems in the other components.

How Hard is it to Make Work?

ioimage provides a graphical point and click user interface that is quite similar to the graphic applications that millions of people use everyday. What's interesting about this is that this is not common today in video analytics. Most video analytic configuration tools resemble the controls of a jumbo jet. For the next demo you take, go ahead and ask to see the configuration tools. I am no longer surprised about seeing systems that offer over 200 configuration parameters with cryptic names and impossible to guess relationships. The ease of setup is a significant differentiator.

Nevertheless, making a simple user interface is actually incredibly hard work. Companies do not build hard to use interfaces because they do not care. Usually such problematic interfaces are a product of a lack of resources. Building a good UI can take 3 to 5 times the amount of design and resources as a bad UI. This is a core example of the complexity needed to deliver simplicity.

Having used ioimage's UI in the field, you do need to understand the high level concepts involved just like you would need to understand the basics of drawing to use a graphics program. However, unlike the jumbo jet type controls in many video analytics, you are freed from understanding lower level issues that someone in the field usually will not know.

How Hard is It to Obtain?

ioimage's product design and distribution has made obtaining the solution simple.

The product has been designed to combine the video source and the analytics into a single appliance. As such, this eliminates a costly and risky element of bringing those two elements together.

Distribution is incredibly easy as literally anyone can obtain the products. Not only can thousands of security integrators purchase the product from Northern Video, installers and integrators can buy directly from Super Circuits.

Contrast this to the Byzantium product purchasing process of Cisco or the politicized negotiating of dealerships for legacy security manufacturers. ioimage has made its products available essentially ubiquitously.

How Hard is it to Make it Work with What I have?

System integration has been one element where ioimage has historically not been simple to use. In the past, ioimage's API required detailed programmatic knowledge that only advanced programmers possessed. Even with such programmers, integrations were time consuming. This limited the ease and number of partners integrated with ioimage.

Last year, to correct this, ioimage introduced a “web-based” API. Millions of programmers today are integrating different web applications like Google, Amazon, Ebay, Facebook, Twitter. They all use similar protocols and processes to make integrations super quick and easy. ioimage has leveraged this same approach in its API. This now allows a vast community of programmers to perform ioimage integrations. It also makes integrations quicker and less painful. (Note: ObjectVideo offers a similar style API in its OVReady offering.)

Much like a 'simple' user interface, a simple API is actually harder to implement because the programmer must properly hide details while ensuring integrations can work smoothly.

Furthermore, ioimage has asserted that they will not politically restrict who has access to their APIs. While you need to sign an NDA to use, anyone can do so. This is a big benefit as it eliminates the biggest historical problem of video surveillance integration – using APIs as a sales weapon.

Concluding Thoughts

Complexity for users and purchasers are critical barriers for the adoption of new technology. The steps that ioimage are taking demonstrate a series of key actions that are reducing such barriers. Pay careful attention to how providers simplify not only video analytics but all elements of video surveillance including megapixel cameras and video management systems.

[premium_content]


1 report cite this report:

ObjectVideo Company Update and Analysis on Jan 14, 2010
This report shares information from a January 2009 interview with ObjectVideo executives. ObjectVideo is a leading intelligent video / video...

Related Reports on Video Analytics

Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to robbers and more. In this interview, IPVM spoke with bank security...
Hikvision DeepinView Camera Analytics Tested on May 08, 2019
Hikvision is expanding its 'deep learning' offerings with a new camera series called 'DeepinView' claiming false alarm reduction and improved...
Aegis AI Gun Detection Video Analytics Startup on May 07, 2019
Gun detection analytic startups are increasing as the promise of AI and the threats of active shooters grow.  One company, Aegis AI, is being led...
IBM Shuts Down Intelligent Video Analytics on May 02, 2019
Abruptly, IBM has discontinued its Intelligent Video Analytics solution, it confirmed to IPVM. IBM's video analytics have faced recent media...
LenelS2 Launches VRx Video Platform on Apr 29, 2019
For years, S2's video management platform, the NetVR, was based on Exacq. Now, after years of internal development, S2 has launched its own...
The HIVIDEO $31 Face Detection DVR Tested on Apr 25, 2019
Face detection in a $31 DVR? That is what "HIVIDEO" (not to be confused with Hikvision, even if the company intends to do that) was promoting at...
Verint Victimized By Ransomware on Apr 18, 2019
Verint, which is best known in the physical security industry for video surveillance but has built a sizeable cybersecurity business as well, was...
ISC West 2019 Report on Apr 12, 2019
The IPVM team has finished at the Sands looking at what companies are offering and how they are changing their positioning. See below for 50+...
Bosch AI Camera Trainer Released And Tested on Apr 09, 2019
Bosch is releasing a highly unusual new AI feature - 'Camera Trainer'. Now, coming as a standard feature in Bosch IVA/EVA analytics, one can train...
Airship VMS Profile on Apr 03, 2019
Airship has been developing VMS software for over 10 years, however, with no outside investment, and minimal marketing, the company is not well...

Most Recent Industry Reports

NJ Law Requires Apprenticeship For Public Works Integrators on May 24, 2019
Few integrators do a formal apprenticeship program. However, now a NJ law is requiring any integrator on public works projects (such as state...
Security / Privacy Journalist Sam Pfeifle Interview on May 24, 2019
Sam Pfeifle is best known as the outspoken former Editor of Security Systems News. After that, he was publications director at the International...
Verkada Video Quality Problems Tested on May 23, 2019
Verkada suffers from numerous video quality problems, not found in commercial IP cameras, new IPVM testing of Verkada vs Axis and Hikvision...
Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2019 on May 23, 2019
What is the average frame rated used in video surveillance systems? In IPVM's 2011 statistics, the average was 6-8fps increasing to ~10fps in...
Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
ASCMA / Monitronics Declares Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Plan on May 22, 2019
Monitronics is entering into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company, also called Ascent Capital Group Inc., aka ASCMA, aka Brinks Home Security,...
US Considers Sanctions Against Hikvision and Dahua on May 22, 2019
The US government is considering blacklisting "up to 5" PRC surveillance firms, including Hikvision and Dahua, Bloomberg reported, with human...
Dahua USA Celebrates 5 Years of Errors on May 21, 2019
Dahua USA is, in their own words, 'celebrating' 5 years in North America or as trade magazine SSN declared: Dahua Technology finds success in...
Axis ~$150 Outdoor Camera Tested on May 21, 2019
Axis has released the latest in their Companion camera line, the outdoor Companion Dome Mini LE, a 1080p integrated IR model aiming to compete with...
Covert Facial Recognition Using Axis and Amazon By NYTimes on May 20, 2019
What if you took a 33MP Axis camera covering one of the busiest parks in the US and ran Amazon Facial Recognition against it? That is what the...

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