The Not Next Big Thing: Virtual Reality Video Surveillance

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on May 05, 2015

This company, according to the company, "wowed the industry-at-large, created a hunger amongst resellers."

Best known as another Dahua OEM, IC Realtime (also now calling themselves IC Real Tech) is working hard to transform itself as a pioneer of 'virtual reality video surveillance.'

Alas, having experienced it at ISC West ourselves, there are some critical flaws with the approach.

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Comments (27)

I'd be more interested in creating a 'virtual workspace' with VR goggles. You could create a virtual command center rather than spend money on a real one and use some kind of gestural interface to manipulate the environment (think Minority Report).

A solution to the fatigue problem: Build a C.A.V.E.

Agreed. The virtual reality surveillance has long way to go. That said, if the VR view can combine the images from conventional cameras at a site and possibly video feeds from drones, this could be a game changing approach.

We need technology advances to make this a practicle solution. As you mentioned, these goggles are too heavy to wear during a shift.

Slightly more impressive:

The augmented reality of Microsoft's HoloLens and the Google funded Magic Leap have much more significant security application than VR. If your job responsibilities include having to monitor security cameras, augmented reality will allow you to "pin" those cameras to walls and floors in the real world and walk around while still having the camera view in that approximate spot in your field of view.

Furthermore, imagine stereoscopic people counting technologies and GIS integrated video solutions. When those are integrated with augmented reality glasses, a security person will be able to "see" everyone and have radar guiding him right to analytic events.

How about Bluetooth Low Energy enabled access control badges that give security personnel a HUD displaying textual information and a picture of who someone is.

Really, half of all the cool stuff envisioned for augmented reality is directly related to security.

Should HoloLens and Magic Leap actually deliver, I think security will be a very exciting industry to work in.

Really, half of all the cool stuff envisioned for augmented reality is directly related to security.

Define cool. ;)

I saw this demo at the show and I think you kind of missed the point 1. It does work with their VMS and NVRs 2. You do not have to use A VR headset 3. You can use an iPad, iPhone, android, or windows Machine and stream the video to any of these devices and use your finger to navigate. 4. Having the ability to change POV is pretty cool. I thought the single lens product was cool. The double lens has even more applications. 5. I thought the camera was pretty unique and worked well.


I think it's fair to say that it's 'cool'. The bigger long-term question is how competitive is to other offerings out there?

Without the VR headset, it's just another panoramic camera that can be controlled on traditional systems (tablets, thick clients, etc.). But it's far more expensive and for what additional value?

In closing you mentioned, "The double lens has even more applications."

What are you thinking of? And how would the 720 better solve that traditional offerings at lower prices and with third party integrations?


I work on a lot of large scale surveillance projects like large hospitals, mines, and solar & wind farms. The environments are dynamic with lots of moving equipment and large objects like giant dump tucks, loading houses for concrete, and tall towers. These panoramic cameras allow me to leverage surveillance views that I never had before at a low cost.

IC Realtime has a single sensor version of this technology for sale right now that I have recently started to utilize -- the ICIP-360L12. Dealer price is about $750. It is a 4k sensor with IR and audio and it works really well. I like being able to use a single camera to capture an environment instead of a PTZ and then dewarp the image in the company's VMS software. The image can also be de-warped in the camera software too. I like the flexibility of 4 types of de-warping like panoramic views and single camera virtual PTZ view.

In my case I am interested in more than standard small business or restaurant surveillance angles. However, being able to capture a lobby or the point where 3 hallways intersect with one camera is economical and it works great. I like the ambarella chip in the camera and it really helps if I want to use motion detection. I like the single or double sensor idea. It is efficient and cost sensitive. The price is right and the performance is strong.

Ultimately, I see the price point on the two sensor version dropping rapidly once it hits the market. Perfect applications for such a camera could be airports, stadiums, and large areas that require wide angle views.

In regard to new content generation for entertainment where there is no specific POV and the user can select the view that they wish, we are in the early stages of this type of media model. Youtube and a number of companies seem to be entering this arena and at this nacent stage there are a number of applications to still be discovered. The VR world is still young, and the industry has a lot of hurdles to jump, but with 360 cameras and the like, there are a number of interesting and new applications to be discovered. When I bought my first Palm Pilot I never could imagine the Iphone or Andriod technology and how important it would become. We are at a very early stage in 360/environment capture. Once numerous levels of technology such as thermal, radar, and analytics can be seamlessly layered and merged with augmented reality and the like amazing products will be delivered. Meanwhile, the IC Realtime IC720 is a great beginning.

"IC Realtime has a single sensor version of this technology for sale right now that I have recently started to utilize -- the ICIP-360L12."

The ICIP-360L12 seems solid, but that's a traditional fisheye like lots of other manufacturers have. Indeed, that model looks a lot like the 12MP IR Dahua fisheye IPC-EBW81200.

"[Two sensor is] Perfect applications for such a camera could be airports, stadiums, and large areas that require wide angle views."

I still do not see why, e.g., a stadium would want a camera which has 50% of its FoV waste on the sky and the floor. There's lot of other products that far more effectively target their pixels / FoV.

"We are at a very early stage in 360/environment capture. Once numerous levels of technology such as thermal, radar, and analytics can be seamlessly layered and merged with augmented reality and the like amazing products will be delivered."

360 has been around for 15 years, ipix, Grandeye etc. This time might be different, thermal, radar, etc. might be right around the bend but the IC Real Tech pitch sounds like a lot of hot air to me.

I am thinking that a large machine room, manufacturing floor with sky crane, and numerous applications where you want to see the ceiling and it makes sense. I am not sure the 360 of 15 years ago is comprable to 2 4K sensors with all the bells and whistles. The technological trends move in hard to predict waves. When I first heard about Twitter I laughed at the idea. It just goes to show that sometimes we cannot predict the future.

Disclosure: I'm the president of Fortem.

I'm also very excited about the potential security applications of AR (Augmented Reality) technologies like Hololens and Magic Leap. Our company, Fortem, develops the Omnipresence 3D security management software, that integrates with dozens of leading 3rd party security equipment, e.g. Milestone, Genetec, Avigilon. We had a strong focus on 3D and immersive features since 2008 and I think that many of our unique 3D features will be very valuable once AR comes to market.

For instance, we have a patented 3D algorithm that helps an operator to track suspects almost effortlessly, by automatically selecting cameras with the optimal, direct view of the suspect. As the operator moves in a 3D map, the cameras change automatically and if appropriate, PTZs are automatically zoomed in the optimal direction. In extreme cases, it can help eliminate hundreds of clicks during a complex alarm or investigation.

This algorithm is a good complement to AR because:

- It will allow users to automatically bring up the most relevant cameras based on where they are and what they are looking at, with no user intervention

- Clicking in AR will be cool but tiring, i.e. waving your fingers is not something you'll want to do all the time. I expect that completely automating this process will be valuable beyond security, e.g. in entertainment.

It's important to realize that AR like Hololens will likely suffer from severe limitations in its first iterations, e.g. the battery life, the range will probably be limited and require mapping the space in 3D to localize the headset precisely. In our case, mapping facilities in 3D is already part of our standard process so we can probably deal with these limitations better than companies that don't have a 3D expertise.

Update: IC Realtime / Real Tech has just raised $15 million. So this gambit has literally paid off.

Funniest quote:

"In the consumer markets, the portable version (ALLie) is already considered a leading solution in the Virtual Reality sector for its ability to create and share immersive action videos. The IC720 and ALLie will become available for sale later this year."

...installed at over 100,000 customer sites in over 10 countries around the world including such countries as Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Dubai, Mexico, Qatar, Spain, United States.

That is one list that is better off not being shown alphabetically.

Geography quiz: Which 'country' is not a country at all?

'in over 10 countries'

Is that something to tout?

What's really impressive is that they are munging their Chinese OEM sales, which accounts for 99%+ of their customer sites with their new 'technology'.

p.s - Dubai

ALLie is now for sale. How it was considered a leading solution before it was actually on a marketing mystery.

$600 for a home camera??

and check the cloud storage pricing:

For some odd reason I feel compelled to mount a weak defense of Allie...

First off I've used the thing a while back: IC Real Tech Gets Real Lucky After NBC Drops Miss USA Pagaent

It worked, and was about as understandable as a 720 degree camera can be. You downloaded the app and then you could either move around during the live stream or pre-recorded app.

The price per pixel is less than nest cam.

The price per stored pixel is a little more than nest but not as bad as it would seem.

thats it.

"The price per pixel is less than nest cam."

I didn't know Scott Schafer commented on IPVM...

What are those extra pixels really giving to you? And how big is the customer base going to pay 3x more than a Dropcam, which is already 4x more than an Ezviz kit?

Well I did say it was a weak defense.

I didn't know Scott Schafer commented on IPVM...

Actually Scott is old school, pixel per dollar, I'm a pixels per penny guy, though I admit his influence is hard to resist.

Why do I like PPP? Because it's some kind of absolute measure of camera value? Of course not. But it is a good starting point.

Anyway, PPP just formalizes the subconscious, intuitive math that ones does already whether one realizes it or not. Since price and pixels generally correlate, making them a ratio is simply a way of normalizing the data. Which helps you compare easier. But it doesn't mean that's all you should compare.

I am obviously not against factoring in cost or cost compared to pixels.

My point is, for a home camera, I am not sure how useful those extra pixels are relative to the increased cost.

How many 4 channel 1080p Ezviz kits can I get for the cost of an Allie???

You just can't put a price on cool John.


Somebody over at IC realtime is gonna be realticked about Luna.

But isn't that half the coverage of the IC camera?

No, just half the marketing. :)

The IC cam is two 360 degree cams stitched into a single view, so effectively twice the viewing angle of the Luna

The Luna has two cameras as well, stitched.

Degrees are a two dimensional construct. 720 degrees is a marketing construct.

Degrees are a two dimensional construct. 720 degrees is a marketing construct.

This is exactly why I tend to call these types of cameras "hemispherical" versus "spherical."

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