As a handgun enthusiast I have handled and fired all sorts of semi-automatic pistols and revolvers (and I still have all my fingers). Thanks to my late friend George Maddox I became acquainted with the 1911-style .45-caliber pistol, which was the U.S. military’s sidearm of choice from its introduction in the early 1900s until 1985, when it was replaced by the Beretta M9 9 mm. Many handgun experts have waxed poetic on the qualities of the 1911-style pistol, often declaring it the best handgun ever designed.

It was often opined that there would never be a better pistol designed than John Browning’s 1911.

Handgun designs from major manufacturers remained pretty static throughout most of the 20th century. One of the primary features of typical guns of the era was all-metal parts, with frames made of high-grade steel and/or aluminum.

During the 1980s the Glock Company of Austria started to produce a line of handguns with one startling difference. Instead of a metal receiver/mainframe, Glock pistols were made using injection-molded, high-strength polymer plastic materials. This revolutionary development delivered handguns that were lighter, stronger and less expensive to manufacture.

Today the majority of U.S. police departments issue Glock pistols in various calibers. Other manufacturers have embraced the “plastic gun” concept started by Glock, and the majority of handguns sold today are of the polymer variety. The performance of these plastic pistols has been proved time and again.

Indeed, Gaston Glock designed a better type of handgun even when it was a commonly accepted “fact” that nothing new could be done in pistol design and manufacturing.

What does the above story have to do with the electronic security industry? I can compare today’s analog camera offerings to the old 1911 pistol. Certainly the cameras work, but with the exceptions of better lenses and IR night lighting there have been no real innovations in standard analog cameras for years. The only difference is that the pricing has decreased.

Our manufacturers are spending their R&D money in the IP camera space, developing new features and benefits that will help your customers get the most functionality from their surveillance camera systems.

An excellent example of feature developments in IP cameras can be seen in the Illustra 600/610 mini-dome cameras. These robust cameras can provide 720p or 1080p resolution, indoor and outdoor versions, IR lighting, PoE power options, vandal-proof housing and bubbles, and onboard SD card recording.

While there are a number of quality IP camera vendors who include these features in their products, Illustra has developed a couple of benefits that should be very attractive to your end-users.

The Illustra 600/610 series of cameras have a programmable option that enables facial detection. It’s important here to differentiate between facial detection and facial recognition. Facial detection will not provide image analysis to identify a specific person, but it will detect and “lock onto” any human faces that are in a camera’s field of view.

The Illustra facial detection feature will place a box around faces in an image, and the image resolution is increased within the box. Consequently, end-users will have crystal-clear images of peoples’ faces while the rest of the image is at a lower resolution, which reduces the network bandwidth required as well as the storage disk size requirement for a particular system.

When using the built-in micro-SD card recording option, these cameras can be programmed to record onto themselves, eliminating any network bandwidth loading along with the cost of providing an NVR or PC/server VMS system. This is a breakthrough feature which can greatly reduce the cost of a system to the end-user and will eliminate the potential service problems of providing PCs and servers to perform video management functions.

Certain Illustra cameras can utilize the Exacq Edge VMS technology, which is a software that can be downloaded into specific cameras. Once the Edge programs are installed, end-users can use any smart device or PC with a standard browser to access multiple cameras from the same or separate locations with full-blown VMS functionality. No special software is needed on the users’ devices, and no expensive additional computer hardware is necessary to provide clients with feature-rich surveillance camera viewing capabilities for real-time and forensic viewing. Using this technology can greatly reduce the cost of equipment and installation, which should translate into increased sales for those integrators who embrace this system concept.

While there are less expensive IP cameras on the market, only a select few manufacturers are providing high-end features like those found on the Illustra products. This product line demonstrates that while analog surveillance cameras have been on the market for decades, innovative IP camera manufacturers will continue to design new uses and features that will transform our industry’s ability to help end-users get the most from
their surveillance systems.

 Just like the Glock did to the handgun industry, IP cameras are transforming our cameras systems in dramatic ways. To paraphrase Joe Willie Namath, I can’t wait for tomorrow because our IP cameras are going to be better looking every day.