From the Top. A Conversation with Dr. Michael Kaplinsky

Q: What differentiates Arecont from the many other players entering the Megapixel Camera and IP market at this time?

A: In video surveillance, the most important performance criteria is the ability to best recognize details in a scene. This is what continues to drive the professional security market’s transition to megapixel video. While we believe the industry’s transition to be inevitable, earlier professional megapixel camera offerings have had significant shortcomings that have impeded the process. Some of the obstacles that camera manufacturers are struggling to overcome include high prices, slow frame rates, poor night time sensitivity, as well as a lack of features traditionally found in professional analog cameras.

From the very get-go, Arecont Vision’s aim was to solve these obstacles by developing a product line that would deliver imaging performance and features superior to conventional analog cameras at a competitive price point.  We quickly realized that this goal required a very tight integration of various image processing functions along with very specialized internal camera architecture. With that in mind, we have developed proprietary massively-parallel image processing architecture called MegaVideo® that enables Arecont to offer super HDTV resolution cameras at analog camera price levels.

Q: What new technologies or product trends is Arecont driving to the market?

A: Arecont Vision does not use any third-party image processing technologies in its cameras. By maintaining complete control over our architectures and intellectual property, we have developed some very unique solutions specifically for megapixel surveillance. For example, to address the issue of lower sensitivity associated with small pixel sizes, we developed dual-sensor day/night cameras that automatically switch between two sensors and employ larger pixel sizes for night viewing.

To further address the cost of the camera per unit area under surveillance, we developed quad-sensor 8-megapixel panoramic cameras that provide 180 and 360 degrees of view. These cameras feature our SurroundVideo® technology and cost only a fraction of what it would cost to provide the same coverage with multiple conventional megapixel IP cameras.

We have also helped to make the decision to migrate to the higher performance of megapixel cameras easier through simple ergonomics. By reducing the size of our megapixel cameras to less than 3”, they easily fit in most popular domes and housings. We’ve also added critical features such as auto-iris support, flash synchronization and the ability to accommodate most standard video surveillance lenses. As a result of these efforts, we have seen considerable gains in market demand, which has led to our sales volume doubling every 6 months for the last 3 years.

Q: Where do you see video surveillance technology going in the future?

A:  Megapixel cameras allow users to significantly reduce overall system costs as multiple analog cameras can be replaced with just one-megapixel camera while maintaining the same area coverage. While there is no doubt that the megapixel video will completely replace analog cameras based on a 50-year-old NTSC/PAL standard, the only remaining barrier to widespread adoption is the fact that JPEG-based megapixel video requires larger bandwidth and storage size. It is well known that most camera manufacturers have been developing MPEG-based cameras that would cut the storage requirements by as much as an order of magnitude. I would expect that complete lines of H.264 cameras will start to appear on the market as early as Q1, 2008. I also expect that some manufacturers will offer these cameras at an incremental price increase, further accelerating the complete market transition to digital HDTV surveillance.

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