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Digital video applications play pivotal role in establishment of smart cities
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Friday 9 May 2014

Committed to providing solutions for customer viewing needs, LILIN has been active in the handheld, cloud, and digital home product spaces for the past couple of years. In 2014, LILIN 's product R&D strategy will be aimed at developing 4K IP cameras as well as 120fps IP cameras, which are both related to various smart city applications.

Steve Hu, Product Manager, LILIN , points out that 60fps cameras already produce video that is just as smooth as analog cameras, whereas 120fps IP cameras, with their ultra-high shutter speeds of up to 1/20,000 seconds, are suitable for cash-counting centers, casinos, high-speed production lines, as well as high-speed vehicle license plate recognition. This type of technology has the ability to provide significant benefits to the financial sector, the entertainment industry, as well as smart transportation applications.

In reality, digital video technologies have advanced rapidly in recent years, and most cameras have already reached "Blu-ray levels" (1920 by 1080 pixels). In the future, it can be anticipated that cameras will trend toward the 4K2K (3840 by 2106 pixels) television standard. However, as Steve Hu points out, it is difficult for high-resolution cameras to focus. If manual focusing is used, costs are higher in regions where labor costs are high, which would result in additional difficulty in the promotion of digital imaging. Using automatic focusing results in a 40% saving in installation time, which in turn reduces installation costs.

Another important type of digital imaging technology is compression. The key is to be able to use the minimum amount of bandwidth for the same level of high resolution, says Steve Hu. With good compression technology, we are also able to save hard-disk space. For example, 3Mbps cameras save about 50-60% of space compared to 8-12 Mbps cameras.

In addition, low-light color capturing technologies that do not require infrared (IR) will also play a critical role, says Steve Hu. In general, low-light color capture technologies that use IR consume between 10W to 20W of power (based on the distance between the IR camera and the object it needs to record). If we were able to still see color without the use of IR, power consumption would drop to 2-5W and a significant amount of the cost for electricity could be saved.

Steve Hu further points out that many small-to-medium-sized corporations choose to use PCs as network video recorders (NVRs). Using a dual-core 350W PC as an example, since graphics cards and decompression are required, electricity costs can be at least NT$10,000 (US$329) per year. When environmentally friendly embedded NVRs are used, even with high-resolutions, power consumption is only between 48W and 120W, delivering an effective reduction in electricity costs.

Environmentally friendly, energy-saving solutions are particularly important to retail stores, says Steve Hu, since retailers tend to install 200 to 300 NVRs at various locations. These types of vendors not only require energy-saving solutions, but also want systems that are fast and easy to install. Furthermore, they also want to be able to connect with external equipment for advanced data analysis.

With respect to the NVR requirements of chain stores, Steve Hu thinks that chains that have many stores and also require simultaneous recording at their headquarters need low-bandwidth solutions. Also worth noting is that there have been many robbery cases in which the perpetrators destroyed on-site NVRs to avoid leaving evidence. This is why IP cameras, SD-card recording, NVR recording, and synchronous off-site recording have become mainstream in the market. NVR solutions for chain stores should also include remote playback and backup.

The success of smart cities closely relies on smart transportation, and for smart transportation to be effective, on-vehicle video management as well as mobile video management are crucial. Steve Hu uses the monorail in Daegu, Korea as an example, over 400 IP cameras are installed, and remote vehicle video management is achieved through wireless networks.

According to Steve Hu, many corporations currently still use PC-based solutions for their high-resolution needs. However, what they should be using are decoders to replace PCs, which would not only reduce power consumption, but also allow them to display multi-matrix screens, enlarge single screens, use multi-touch controls, and connect dedicated keyboards.

As for the banking sector, in order to ensure continuous uninterrupted recording, Steve Hu believes that RAID support must be incorporated. When one disk fails, the system immediately switches to another disk and executes rapid data recovery. Other required functions include long-duration recording, support for over 100 cameras, as well as SD-card video synchronization when a camera loses connectivity.

There have already been many successful deployments of digital video surveillance applications in aerotropolis-related industries, such as the video management system at the DHL warehouse and shipment center in Germany, the LCCT airport video management system in Malaysia, and the data center video management system in the Philippines.

Video management system solutions for large-scale aerotropolis shopping malls and hotels must, as pointed out by Steve Hu, be able to manage more than 10,000 cameras. They must also be able to perform multi-channel video format conversion and backup, as well as have failover capabilities so that in the case of a network outage or during equipment maintenance, failover kicks in and system recording is not interrupted.

Furthermore, digital video management systems must also have integrated alarm input/output management functions. In particular, in the case of an abnormality, such as cash registers abnormally opening, video surveillance should immediately be triggered. Many shopping malls and hotels have already successfully deployed video surveillance solutions, including the Westfield Shopping Mall in Australia, the Ramada Hotel in Saudi Arabia, a gold jewelry chain in Malaysia, as well as the Alegra Shopping Mall & Outlet in Spain.

As for urban transportation and video management, Steve Hu points out that in the past, megapixel cameras were not sensitive enough and did not work well under low-light conditions. These issues, however, have all been solved. Now, license plate recognition can still be conducted even on vehicles traveling at 120km/h at nighttime in the absence any light sources. For parking lot management applications, gates could be controlled or monitored through the control of camera directions and bidirectional voice communication, thereby effectively avoiding vehicles being blocked outside parking lot gates, which could result in stalls in the operation of parking lots.

Digital video management can also be integrated with lights, curtains, air conditioning, background music, home theaters, real-time video, as well as electrical appliance control systems in commercial spaces and digital home applications. When used in commercial spaces or digital homes, Steve Hu points out, digital video vendors must work with control application vendors in order to allow customers to control NVRs using a single remote control or smartphone, making digital video monitoring even more convenient.

Steve Hu believes that the future of digital video applications is the cloud, which is why LILIN Technologies is committed to developing cross-platform (Mac OS, iOS, Android, and Windows) video management solutions as well as establishing cloud-based systems in which IP settings and dynamic port forwarding will no longer be necessary. Furthermore, integration with smart TVs may also be possible. 3G/Wi-Fi will also be gradually added, creating even more possibilities, such as digital video rental applications or examination room applications, making the value of digital video applications in smart cities even more significant.

Steve Hu

Steve Hu, Product Manager, LILIN

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