We concisely explain the developments for surveillance cameras offered in 2017 and the state of offerings going into 2018, including cybersecurity, multi-imagers, resolution, H.265, HD analog, image quality, video analytics and cost.
For the first year, really ever in video surveillance, cybersecurity became a major factor. The two events that most impacted the industry were Dahua devices getting massively hacked and Hikvision's simplisitic IP camera backdoor being revealed. With the two largest volume manufacturers hit so heavily, the industry took notice. They were certainly not alone, as various vulnerabilities were found, at various levels of criticality across many manufacturers (as cataloged in our Directory of Video Surveillance Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities and Exploits).
Likewise, many manufacturers started marketing their commitment to cybersecurity (both as an offensive, i.e., way to beat competitors, and a defense mechanism, i.e., to stop customers from defecting).
Camera resolution was not a major factor / shift in video surveillance cameras offered in 2017. Incrementally, adoption of 4MP continued to grow, with 4MP increasingly becoming the most typical resolution used and 4K use growing. However, compared to the past few years, the rate of resolution 'increase' has slowed, with 10+ MP camera options not growing significantly.
In particular, single-imager 'super' resolution growth was limited. Avigilon's proprietary offering stayed at 30MP tops. Axis and Sony both entered in at 20MP, adding options for open platforms, with strong performance but high costs compared to conventional cameras (see Axis vs Sony 20MP Shootout (Q1659 vs SNC-VB770).
For new cameras, multi-imagers is likely the most active segment, both fixed multi-imagers (i.e., 180° or 360° units) and repositionable camera options grew notably. Now, it is increasingly common for manufacturers to have at least fixed multi-imager cameras. Moreover, repositionable
While we expect multi-imagers to remain a niche, they are becoming an increasingly important one for larger installations that see the benefits of reducing camera counts, cabling, installation costs and VMS licenses.
H.265 Going Mainstream
While H.265 had been offered for surveillance cameras for a few years, 2017 was the year when it started to become mainstream. This was due to a combination of more manufacturers offering H.265 plus combining it with smart codec support. H.265 VMS support still lags H.264 but it improved in 2017. Finally, there are definitely still patent licensing issues
(see Manufacturers Shipping Unlicensed H.265 Products) but many will ignore that issue / risk.
Smart Codecs Now Expected
Just a few years ago, smart codecs were novel and limited. By 2017, smart codecs have become commonplace across major manufacturers and user adoption has surged. Now, smart codecs are expected with both H.264 and
and the bandwidth / storge savings have become a significant factor in deployments.
Video Analytics - Deep Learning Hot But Early
Outside of cybersecurity, no area in video surveillance was more discussed than deep learning for video analytics. Unfortunately, in 2017 very few cameras shipped with deep learning, and certainly few mainstream offerings. Because of that, the impact of deep learning within video surveillance remains muted. The situation may very well change in 2018 depending on what is released by which manufacturers.
HD Analog New Products Cooled
HD analog did not make as much progress as it did in the past few years. HD analog has been promoting higher resolution, power over coax and
interoperability for the past 2 years but those features were slow to roll out globally in 2017. It is not yet clear whether this is just temporary delays or
it reflects a fundamental deceleration in HD analog progress.
One thing is indisputable, Japanese and Western manufacturers (outside of OEMs) continue to refuse offering HD analog, marketing against it, which constraints adoption.
Cost Declines Diminished
Unlike the past few years, camera cost declines decelerated. While $100 MP cameras are now commonplace, that rough price level has held among mainstream distribution. We attribute this to manufacturers increasingly factoring in the cost of sales and marketing plus growing support and cybersecurity costs. Related, 2017 is the year that the race to the bottom ended.
For 2018, the big talk is deep learning and AI but we remain cautious about how quickly and how widely that will be made available.