AI is the most significant trend in the surveillance industry. On one hand, demands for good AI applications are strong, and we are still hiring people to watch surveillance video while it could be replaced by AI algorithms that work tirelessly and with better accuracy. On the other hand, the technology advancements in SoCs and deep learning algorithms make it possible to do analytics inside the video cameras.
When the demand is strong and technology is ready, we can foresee industry migrating to a new class of systems, just like we moved from CCTV to IP surveillance in the past decades. This time, we are going from IP surveillance to open platform-based AI solutions.
The deep learning algorithms can be used in many surveillance applications, such as facial recognition, traffic monitoring, people flow analysis, moving object detection and line crossing, just to name a few. The market is fragmented in a long-tailed distribution. Standardization is inevitable to attract more participants to solve various needs for users.
A good example of standardization is ONVIF. Founded in 2008, ONVIF has been very successful in solving the connectivity problem between IP surveillance components, and has transformed the industry. However, to encourage the development of more AI applications for various devices, we need a standard for the internal parts of the devices as well.
Open Security & Safety Alliance
In 2018, Bosch, Hanwha Techwin, Milestone, Pelco and VIVOTEK founded the Open Security and Safety Alliance (OSSA) to build a standard platform, to grow an ecosystem and to drive innovations in AI surveillance. The first step of OSSA is to specify three major components inside a camera device: the SoC, the Operating System, and the standardized APIs.
The SoCs are selected with an emphasis on AI computing power; this enables more complicated algorithms to run smoothly on the devices. The Operating System is based on Android Open Source Project, an OS which millions of developers are familiar with. All the applications are developed with the standardized APIs so that they can run on all OSSA-compliant devices regardless of vendor.
Another important partner of this ecosystem is the platform provider, Security and Safety Things (S&ST). S&ST is a Bosch-founded startup to build the standard Operating System and to provide the IoT infrastructure for developing, selling and using applications.
Flexible AI Software Development
AI applications are the centerpiece of this ecosystem — we try hard to make it frictionless for more app developers to join us.
Contrary to the traditional approach, an OSSA-compliant device is designed with most of the resources reserved for AI applications. The current OSSA devices use the Qualcomm QCS605 SoC, which has an 8-core CPU and an AI engine with 2.1 TOPS of computing power. A lot of interesting applications can run on these devices.
On the software side, the process for developing an app on the OSSA-compliant devices is the same as the process of developing an app for Android smartphones. The Operating System is similar, and the programming environment is the same. This helps to leverage one of the largest developer communities in the world to solve problems for our users.
Unite Demand & Supply
All of the AI applications can be purchased from an App Store built by S&ST. Since the launch of the App Store last year, it is growing fast. Right now, there are more than 90 applications available for download.
System integrators can search or browse through the App Store to find the applications they need. Most of the applications have trial versions so that users can test the application in their own scenario before buying it. System integrators can also enjoy the flexibility to mix and match devices from any manufacturers and applications from any developers.
On the supply side, app developers can use the App Store as an additional sales channel to users all over the world. Since their apps can run on all OSSA-compliant devices from many different device manufacturers, app developers can enjoy greater business potential by joining the OSSA ecosystem.
This is a typical platform business model where we connect the supply and demand to form a closed loop. More devices in the market will attract more app developers to join the ecosystem, and at the same time, more apps available will be the incentive for device manufacturers to develop more products.
Raise the Industry Bar
OSSA is an open alliance focused on developing open standards. With members from different roles in the ecosystem such as: SoC vendor, device manufacturer, VMS company, system integrator, app developer and distributor, we have built a process to discuss and release specifications in a transparent manner. This helps to build trust for the alliance and for the deliverables.
We also pay special attention to cybersecurity and data privacy. OSSA has published a specification which contains definitions and guidelines regarding security measures for cameras.
One Alliance, One Global Approach to Create New Value
If we use the phone industry as an analogy, there was a time when all players in the market were competing with each other on features for making a phone call. Then, the smartphones shifted the market focus to connecting the users to the rest of the world. The surveillance industry is about to experience a similar migration from streaming and recording video to understanding the world through AI analytics. OSSA is leading the way in orchestrating global collaborations by defining fundamental standards and IoT infrastructures to create new value. This is an exciting time of change. You are invited to learn more about OSSA and join the new wave.