HDcctv Alliance Proposes Non-IP HD spec

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A group of vendors goes public today with a proposed format for transmitting uncompressed high-definition video feeds over existing cabling or twisted pair infrastructure. Under the proposed architecture, further compression and encoding is not introduced until the signal reaches the DVR.

The HDcctv specification, the initial document of the HDcctv Alliance, an organization spearheaded by four manufacturers that represent various segments of the chip-camera-DVR supply chain, seeks to establish a signaling format akin to NTSC or PAL for high-definition video transmission. Version 0.9 is set for internal publication today to alliance members.

HDcctv is being positioned as a less expensive alternative to IP megapixel cameras, which packetize images into files in the camera before piping them to a DVR or video management system. HDcctv won't turn ordinary analog cameras into HD, but it will allow 780p and 1080p images to be transmitted over coaxial and twisted pair cable without encoding. The specification will also work with standard definition digital cameras.


The spec is based on the existing serial digital interface for high definition (HD-SDI) used in broadcasting, but will be adapted to handle upstream commands, such as pan-tilt-zoom, commonly used in surveillance applications, as well as upstream audio, according to Todd Rockoff, chairman of the HDcctv Alliance and former vice president global sales-ODM (original design manufacturer) unit for EverFocus, a camera and DVR manufacturer and one of the four founding members of the alliance. Version 0.9 specifies the basic camera-to-DVR interoperability.

A critical transition technology?

The goal of the alliance is to establish a "plug-and-play" HDTV format that users can implement in the near-term without a wholesale investment in IP cameras, networking and equipment, Rockoff said. Such a solution could be appealing to smaller operations, such as small retailers, gas stations and convenience stores, which appreciate the benefit of HD, but do not have or need IP network components

On a larger scale, casinos, especially in Nevada and Atlantic City, also present a huge potential market because of their enormous installed base of analog surveillance systems and current dependence on videotape. HDcctv could represent a critical transition technology that would upgrade the quality of these casinos' surveillance systems while extending the life of their extensive coaxial infrastructure, giving them time for a more affordable migration process.

"The market doesn't want to have to be nerds to do high-res," Rockoff said. "The market wants HD, but within existing paradigms." Instead, he added, "The industry is pushing a new paradigm--IP."

Economics and acceptance

To some extent, the emergence of the HDcctv Alliance reflects some of the resistance vendors are seeing to IP and digital, especially amid the economic slowdown that has even the most security-conscious users scaling back projects.

Success of the HDcctv standard will come down to economics and acceptance, analysts say. "The two questions are: how cheap can they make it and how broadly will it be adopted?" said John Honovich, a security industry consultant whose site, ipvideomarket.info,  had the initial report of the HDcctv Alliance's work. Honovich sees potential for the technology if it can meet these challenges.

However, IP camera makers, including market leader Axis Communications, question the effort.  "It's going to require a lot of time and investment," said Fredrik Nilsson, Axis general manager, stating that numerous camera and DVR makers will have to sign on, contribute to research and development and incorporate the format across a wide number of products, all while the cost curve for IP descends.

Non-IP HD video surveillance technologies have been attempted in the past, noted Nilsson. CoVi Technologies introduced an analog HD camera in 2007, but the product failed to gain traction. CoVi ultimately was acquired by GE Security.

But Rockoff and Bob Beachler, vice president of marketing, operations and systems design for Stretch Inc., said advances in chip technology have made HD-SDI costs feasible for use in surveillance cameras. Along with EverFocus and Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Stretch, a supplier of video codecs and processing cards, Gennum Corp., Burlington, Ontario, which manufactures HD-SDI chips for digital transport of pure HD over coaxial, is another founding member of the alliance. OVii Inc., a Taipei-based ODM start-up that specializes in developing optical, video and imaging solutions for megapixel and HD cameras, rounds out the group.

According to Rockoff, about 60 members have expressed interest in signing up through the alliance web site, although membership bylaws have yet to be codified.

In addition to the reduced cost of processing, Beachler said that HDcctv cameras will be less expensive because they don't need IP hardware and software. They will also consume less power. Users who want to implement HDcctv, however, must purchase a compliant DVR, which Beachler imagines will carry a number of camera interfaces in addition to HDcctv. However, encoding, compression (H.264, MPEG4, MJPEG, etc.), analytics and other intelligence would be done at the DVR, not in the camera.

Rockoff and Beachler say there will be HDcctv-compliant products by the ASIS International conference in September, when the commercial version of the standard also is scheduled for release. The alliance was encouraged by positive response to demonstrations of prototype equipment at ISC West and, more recently, IFSEC 2009 in the U.K.

"This could change the way people do video surveillance," Beachler said.

Release plan

According to Rockoff, the schedule for future HDcctv releases is as follows:

Version 1.0, September 2009, publication of first HDcctv Specification
Version 2.0, 1Q 2010, back channel for speed dome (PTZ) and other cameras
Version 3.0, 3Q 2010, bi-directional audio
Version 4.0, 1Q 2011, up-the-cable power, aiming for 25W over 300m RG-59 cable.

Additional HDcctv Alliance links:

http://www.highdefcctv.org/membership
http://www.highdefcctv.org/about


A group of vendors goes public today with a proposed format for transmitting uncompressed high-definition video feeds over existing cabling or twisted pair infrastructure. Under the proposed architecture, further compression and encoding is not introduced until the signal reaches the DVR.

The HDcctv specification, the initial document of the HDcctv Alliance, an organization spearheaded by four manufacturers that represent various segments of the chip-camera-DVR supply chain, seeks to establish a signaling format akin to NTSC or PAL for high-definition video transmission. Version 0.9 is set for internal publication today to alliance members.

HDcctv is being positioned as a less expensive alternative to IP megapixel cameras, which packetize images into files in the camera before piping them to a DVR or video management system. HDcctv won't turn ordinary analog cameras into HD, but it will allow 780p and 1080p images to be transmitted over coaxial and twisted pair cable without encoding. The specification will also work with standard definition digital cameras.


The spec is based on the existing serial digital interface for high definition (HD-SDI) used in broadcasting, but will be adapted to handle upstream commands, such as pan-tilt-zoom, commonly used in surveillance applications, as well as upstream audio, according to Todd Rockoff, chairman of the HDcctv Alliance and former vice president global sales-ODM (original design manufacturer) unit for EverFocus, a camera and DVR manufacturer and one of the four founding members of the alliance. Version 0.9 specifies the basic camera-to-DVR interoperability.

A critical transition technology?

The goal of the alliance is to establish a "plug-and-play" HDTV format that users can implement in the near-term without a wholesale investment in IP cameras, networking and equipment, Rockoff said. Such a solution could be appealing to smaller operations, such as small retailers, gas stations and convenience stores, which appreciate the benefit of HD, but do not have or need IP network components

On a larger scale, casinos, especially in Nevada and Atlantic City, also present a huge potential market because of their enormous installed base of analog surveillance systems and current dependence on videotape. HDcctv could represent a critical transition technology that would upgrade the quality of these casinos' surveillance systems while extending the life of their extensive coaxial infrastructure, giving them time for a more affordable migration process.

"The market doesn't want to have to be nerds to do high-res," Rockoff said. "The market wants HD, but within existing paradigms." Instead, he added, "The industry is pushing a new paradigm--IP."

Economics and acceptance

To some extent, the emergence of the HDcctv Alliance reflects some of the resistance vendors are seeing to IP and digital, especially amid the economic slowdown that has even the most security-conscious users scaling back projects.

Success of the HDcctv standard will come down to economics and acceptance, analysts say. "The two questions are: how cheap can they make it and how broadly will it be adopted?" said John Honovich, a security industry consultant whose site, ipvideomarket.info,  had the initial report of the HDcctv Alliance's work. Honovich sees potential for the technology if it can meet these challenges.

However, IP camera makers, including market leader Axis Communications, question the effort.  "It's going to require a lot of time and investment," said Fredrik Nilsson, Axis general manager, stating that numerous camera and DVR makers will have to sign on, contribute to research and development and incorporate the format across a wide number of products, all while the cost curve for IP descends.

Non-IP HD video surveillance technologies have been attempted in the past, noted Nilsson. CoVi Technologies introduced an analog HD camera in 2007, but the product failed to gain traction. CoVi ultimately was acquired by GE Security.

But Rockoff and Bob Beachler, vice president of marketing, operations and systems design for Stretch Inc., said advances in chip technology have made HD-SDI costs feasible for use in surveillance cameras. Along with EverFocus and Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Stretch, a supplier of video codecs and processing cards, Gennum Corp., Burlington, Ontario, which manufactures HD-SDI chips for digital transport of pure HD over coaxial, is another founding member of the alliance. OVii Inc., a Taipei-based ODM start-up that specializes in developing optical, video and imaging solutions for megapixel and HD cameras, rounds out the group.

According to Rockoff, about 60 members have expressed interest in signing up through the alliance web site, although membership bylaws have yet to be codified.

In addition to the reduced cost of processing, Beachler said that HDcctv cameras will be less expensive because they don't need IP hardware and software. They will also consume less power. Users who want to implement HDcctv, however, must purchase a compliant DVR, which Beachler imagines will carry a number of camera interfaces in addition to HDcctv. However, encoding, compression (H.264, MPEG4, MJPEG, etc.), analytics and other intelligence would be done at the DVR, not in the camera.

Rockoff and Beachler say there will be HDcctv-compliant products by the ASIS International conference in September, when the commercial version of the standard also is scheduled for release. The alliance was encouraged by positive response to demonstrations of prototype equipment at ISC West and, more recently, IFSEC 2009 in the U.K.

"This could change the way people do video surveillance," Beachler said.

Release plan

According to Rockoff, the schedule for future HDcctv releases is as follows:

Version 1.0, September 2009, publication of first HDcctv Specification
Version 2.0, 1Q 2010, back channel for speed dome (PTZ) and other cameras
Version 3.0, 3Q 2010, bi-directional audio
Version 4.0, 1Q 2011, up-the-cable power, aiming for 25W over 300m RG-59 cable.

Additional HDcctv Alliance links:

http://www.highdefcctv.org/membership
http://www.highdefcctv.org/about


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2 Comments

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The current SD Analogue paradigm in terms of DVR and Camera architectures still offers the most effective solution for 80% of the CCTV Installations in the world. The elegance of the HDcctv architecture is that it can leverage existing Co-Axial Cable and utilize existing DVR software and firmware architectures to offer and affordable and easy migration to HD Video.

IP Camera’s were a concept 8 years ago and are still a niche product, the market requirement is for IP enabled Video, and the business case for IP enabled CCTV Camera’s is still questionable where as IP enabled DVR’s have demonstrated strong ROI’s.

There is never enough resolution for Security applications, detail is important, the question is how do we deliver the HD Video to a DVR from a Camera in a cost effective manner without losing the detail due to compression, a guaranteed QoS (Fame Rate), at a cost that is affordable to the mainstream Security End User?

IP Camera’s has been touted as the solution for many years and year after year we have seen Market Research Companies and IP centric companies such as CISCO predict the death of Analogue Camera’s and IP capturing huge market share. The reality is that out of the 40 Million Camera’s sold into the Security Industry every year at best case Professional CCTV is absorbing about 2.5 Million IP or Network enabled Camera’s (5%). Furthermore the vast majority of IP or Network Camera’s are streaming VGA Video streams and recording at 2CIF!

Maybe HDcctv is not the answer but after 8 years plus and around 5% market share I find it difficult to understand how IP enabled Camera’s will solve the HD market requirement for the pragmatic mainstream CCTV User who represent around 80% of the market in terms of installations. I have yet to see a Business Case ROI study for a 16 Camera or less, unattended operation, 4000sq/ft space CCTV Installation that an IP Camera/NVR solution can come close to competing with a SD Analogue Camera and an IP enabled DVR, in terms of picture quality, ease of use, frame rate, QoS, cost per channel and ease of installation

HDcctv gives Customers a choice and delivers a architecture that has been proven in the Broadcast Video Industry and makes technical and business sense for the CCTV industry. Video Security Applications are mission critical and life threatening, we need to ensure that we are offering a better, faster, easier and ultimately cheaper solution that at minimum meets the existing base line requirements of SD Analogue without compromise as we move HD Digital Video.

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