The Next Big Thing 2012

Author: John Honovich, Published on Aug 12, 2012

In the past 5 years, megapixel IP cameras have sweeped the surveillance industry, changing the landscape and expectations of security users. While megapixel IP use will continue to grow, it has become quite expected.

Looking ahead 5 years from now, what will be the next big thing to take its mantle? In this report, we examine the top 5 contenders, breaking down their potential, barriers and most likely impact.

The Top 5 Contenders

Here's an overview of the top 5 contenders for the next big thing:

  • 10MP+ cameras - "Super" high resolution
  • Edge Storage - Eliminating VMSes by recording on board the camera
  • HD SDI - megapixel without the need for IP cameras
  • Hosted Video - recording in the 'cloud'
  • Video Analytics - 'real' video intelligence (finally)

Results - Readers Choice: Video Analytics - Next Big Thing 2012

Breaking it Down

Inside, we will break down all top 5 contenders.

Summary Recommendations

Here's a summary:

  • Biggest Upside but Riskiest: Video analytics, once it happens it will revolutionize the industry but when it does is still debatable
  • Best Bet Overall: Edge storage, which is now full steam ahead for replacing VMSes in small, simple deployments but may not be as big as video analytics if everything comes together
  • Most Likely to Happen: 10MP+ cameras, which are well on the path to mainstream use with incremental advances
  • Most Likely to Be a Dud: Hosted video, whose value proposition is to too close to edge storage but at a much higher cost.
  • Most Likely to Be a Niche: HD SDI, faced with too many competitive forces to become a major factor.

10MP+ cameras

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Potential: Super high resolution has the potential to cover broader spaces and/or provide more detail over existing coverage areas. Today, while megapixel is the hot trend, overwhelmingly IP cameras are 3MP or less. Moving to 10MP, 14MP or higher, gives the potential for 3x to 5x more pixels.

Limitations: Looking over the next 5 years, limitations are fairly minimal. The biggest is likely affordable lens. Additionally, today, 10MP+ cameras CMOS cameras suffer from poor low light and WDR performance but gains in these areas are rapid.

Projection: While we do not see this as a 'game changer', 10MP+ cameras are likely to be quite common in 2017 with much improved low light and WDR performance. These will make an incremental improvement in covering large areas such as parking lots and perimeters.

Edge Storage

Potential: The biggest potential is to eliminate VMS servers; Secondarily is to complement existing VMS systems with redundancy and connectivity to sites that have a few cameras or have a low bandwidth / unreliable network.

Limitations: The biggest limitation is the difficulty of integrating with camera's edge storage. Unlike support of video streaming which is increasingly universal, VMS software has very little support for camera edge storage. Plus, integrating recorded video is far harder than live streaming video (much greater complexity). Secondarily, SD card storage is much more expensive per bit than hard drives (and will remain that way for the foreseeable future).

Projection: The big impact will come from camera companies using edge storage to eliminate the cost / complexity of managing a VMS server. In the past, camera companies offered server based VMS software (often for free) but with only modest success. As they eliminate the need for a PC entirely, this will become far more attractive for the large number of users who want basic surveillance functionality. For the rest of the market, edge storage will become an incremental advance for redundancy and overcoming connectivity restrictions.


Potential: To deliver the resolution of megapixel IP without the complexity of using IP. Plus, for smaller existing systems, the potential to reuse existing cabling.

Limitations: The two most fundamental are (1) not backwards compatible with existing DVRs, so requires a new recorder and (2) limited resolution to 1080p. Today, there are a host of other issues like limited vendor support, limited models and higher cost but all those can be resolved if the technology gathers momentum.

Projection: HD SDI will most likely max out as a minor niche given that it has 3 powerful forces against it - (1) the people most likely to value it are older techs who are retiring / losing power, (2) edge storage addresses the same target market - smaller camera sites - but with the powerful attraction of no recorder at all and (3) IP cameras can do a lot more - higher resolution, on-board analytics, panoramic imaging, audio, etc., that HD SDI cannot do.

Hosted Video

Potential: Biggest benefit is eliminating the on-site DVR / NVR with secondary benefits being secure, redundant storage in the cloud.

Limitations: Upstream bandwidth limitations and the cost of streaming / storing bandwidth in data centers. While this will certainly improve, increasing needs for more resolution will likely offset improvements there.

Projection: Hosted video is likely to be the biggest disappointment as it is just like edge storage but a lot more expensive. The differentiators it does have (like redundancy and eliminating worries about stolen recorders) are simply not enough to overcome the much higher price of these offering.

Note: We fully expect 'managed video' of locally stored video (whether on board cameras or inside NVRs/DVRs) to become commonplace but that is fundamentally different than hosted video (e.g. March's Managed Cloud offering). Read more about Hosted vs Managed video.

Video Analytics

Potential: Revolutionize surveillance from a primarily passive, forensic solution to a powerful, pro-active, real time detection system. The power of surveillance systems with video analytics will far supersede the improvements that megapixel delivered.

Limitations: Lots of them, still, legally, financially and operationally: (1) The OV lawsuits remain a black cloud over the industry. (2) New funding into the video analytic industry has nearly ground to a halt. (3) Performance, overall, is still quite bad.

Projection: 5 years is a fairly long time, for past failures to be forgotten, for computing advances to empower better analytic algorithms and for the OV lawsuits to be settled. All that noted, it may take to the end of the decade for video analytics to truly become a mass market force but once it does, it is a guaranteed game changer.

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