High-definition television, or HDTV, refers to video with substantially higher resolution than that of standard-definition television, or SDTV. As image quality is arguably the most important feature of any camera, particularly so for those where objects are moving or accurate identification is vital, its development is impacting the video surveillance market by providing outstanding image quality compared with traditional analog CCTV systems. As the first vendor providing network cameras with HDTV performance in compliance with the SMPTE standards, we asked Erik Frännlid from Axis Communications about its development and why businesses looking for increased surveillance capabilities should be paying attention.
GIT-SECURITY.com: What is the current state of the HDTV market?
E. Frännlid: Uptake in the consumer market for HDTV has been impressive, with strong sales attributed to the falling costs of HD television sets as well as an increase in the number of programmes produced in HD. According to Informa Telecoms & Media's ‚Global HDTV Forecasts', only 5.8 % of global TV homes were watching HD programming by the end of 2009, however this is expected hit to 21 % by 2014. The same report also ranked North America the highest for HDTV viewing uptake, accounting for two-thirds of the 2010 total. This proportion is expected to fall to 37% by 2014 as other regions catch up. Asia-Pacific is the third-largest region, largely due to early adoption in Japan. APAC is predicted to take second place and account for 31% of the total by 2014. In Europe the UK is leading the way, followed closely by France.
Since we announced the first network camera compatible with HDTV performance in compliance with the SMPTE standards in 2008, we have seen a tremendous interest from customers. The majority of our network cameras launched since then have HDTV performance.
Can you take us through the development of HDTV?
E. Frännlid: High-resolution television dates back to around 1958, with the soviet military's development of Transformer, a system to transmit extremely clear and crisp images of its conferences.
A decade later the Japanese state broadcaster, NHK, developed the first system for commercial use. The prospect of vastly improved image quality stirred consumer interest globally. However, due to the huge amounts of data being transmitted, a far more effective compression technique was required. By this point it was understood that the only system which would be able to deliver the desired results would be a digital one. Unfortunately such a system had not yet been developed. The creation of MPEG compression standards in the early 1990's, which eventually resulted in H.264 compression standard, not only made HDTV broadcast possible, but also economically viable.
How has it changed the video surveillance market?
E. Frännlid: The move towards HDTV in the consumer market has also had an impact on the video surveillance market, as customers demand higher image quality. Although high resolution images result in far larger amounts of data, a network camera with HDTV that complies with SMPTE standards is guaranteed resolution and frame rate. Therefore a high standard of video quality is ensured at all times. Working with progressive scanning, network cameras with HDTV performance deliver true color representation and clear images even with fast moving objects. This makes HDTV a highly attractive solution for surveillance operations where greater image detail is necessary, such as at retail stores, airports, casinos and highways.
How does it benefit video surveillance?
E. Frännlid: As HDTVs are based on square pixels, similar to computer screens, HDTV video from network video products can be shown on either HDTV screens or standard computer monitors. With progressive scan HDTV video, no conversion technique needs to be applied when the video is being processed by a computer or displayed on a computer screen. In a surveillance application, this can be critical for viewing details within a moving image, such as a person running or a moving vehicle. The image quality improvements brought by high-definition TV have been well received and a similar trend can be seen in the traditional video surveillance market. HDTV-compliant network cameras deliver a resolution, color representation and frame rate that are in accordance with SMPTE standards, making them an ideal solution in surveillance situations that require higher quality images.
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