The world of physical security is full of people searching high and low for the next killer application. From manufacturers, to Wall Street, to end users, the excitement of finding a killer application to propel technology adoption and enhance physical security is considered a worthwhile endeavor. Killer applications have proven that the power of new applications can transform markets. The term “Killer App” originated with the release of Lotus 1-2-3 when it drove dramatic increases in sales of IBM PCs. For the physical security video industry, the killer application has been hard to find in recent years.


From the Ashes: New Killer Apps

Many in the industry thought video analytics was the next killer app, however real-time video analytics ultimately failed to take off, because most systems don’t require viewing the ever-increasing number of live video streams. In addition, the end user was required to choose what live video analytics would be run, configured and tuned for each camera in advance. When it was time for the installation to begin, the integration of real-time analytics was far more difficult than the average systems integrator or dealer could successfully complete. But from the ashes of failure, has come some really useful investigation tools.


Search, Not Replay

Video search, one of the most interesting new investigation tools has actually been around for several years, dating back to a white paper written by ObjectVideo called “Forensics: Activity-Based Video Indexing and Retrieval for Physical Security Applications.” This whitepaper presents an architecture and methodology for high-speed activity-based digital video indexing and retrieval and describes the theoretical benefits of such an application. However, the first company to commercialize this technology was AgentVi, with the launch of their Vi-Search application. This application integrates with many leading video management systems and has shown many security video operators and investigators the speed and power of running SQL searches to find incidents, instead of reviewing hours of recorded video. This application has the ability to create, save and reuse useful queries that combine the power of multiple video analytics algorithms post- incident with no prior planning required. This allows analytics-based video searches to be run against hundreds of cameras simultaneously, while delivering the results in seconds. Add to this a simplified installation and integration, and it looks like AgentVi has developed a powerful new application.


Synopsis, Not Time-Lapsed

Video Synopsis by Briefcam is a new technology that takes a different approach to increasing the speed of investigations. Instead of searching stored video, it takes a chosen camera and a user defined time period, and replays all of the stored motion events against the same background image sequenced in such a way that the events are occurring simultaneously yet don’t overlap. This allows the video operator to quickly assess a video scene looking for a specific incident while still seeing all the activity within that time period. Depending on the amount of activity, you can watch an hour of this “synopsis” video in one minute. The results of speeding up investigations are amazingly clear when the investigation is over a longer span of time. 


Bookmarking, Not Printing

Additional video investigation tools currently built into video management systems such as sequencing, or viewing the video as a series of thumbnail images. These new application features perform the task of separating many frames of video and presenting them as small thumbnail images. These thumbnail images can be quickly compared side by side to help operators easily find the specific video event they are looking for. This application feature gains more value when bookmarking is combined. This allows the investigator or operator to tag the video with notes to quickly retrieve the exact image in the future. It also allows multiple operators or investigators to collaborate on the evidence prior to exporting. When ready to export, having a multi-camera export feature makes it much easier to present the whole investigation in a synchronized and easy to replay format.


Seeing is Believing

Products like AgentVi Vi-Search, Briefcam’s Video Synopsis technology and many video management systems that are now including video sequencing, bookmarking and multi-camera exporting, are changing how video is viewed. Investigations, instead of live monitoring, have always been the primary use of video surveillance. If improvements in how long it takes to complete an investigation can be made; there are real possibilities to improve the return on investment of IP video surveillance systems. In the world of surveillance “seeing is believing” and seeing the power of improved investigations will create the next Killer App.