Embedded digital video management is the way forward, says Ultrak

September 2002 Surveillance

While the debate over digital vs analog wages on in the surveillance industry, Ultrak SA believes that this question has already been answered. Now, according to the company the question should be which digital system should one choose - PC-based or embedded systems.

According to the company, embedded digital solutions have become the choice for many of its clients. Proof of this may be found in the fact that in excess of 80% of the company's digital video recorders (DVRs) sales is derived from the sale of embedded systems.

There have been many claims regarding different DVRs. "Over the past few years the DVR market has certainly been flooded by a variety of PC-based DVRs. Embedded recorders were not readily available, low on offering and high on price. The reason for this was that the development cycle of PC-based products was far quicker than embedded, based on the large amount of open scalable technology available to all. This did not necessarily make it the appropriate solution but pretty much the only choice."

Advancements in the field of embedded DVRs have changed this. A case in point is the fact that Ultrak has released an embedded DVR with standalone reliability 'offline', and all the advantages of the open architecture of the network environment. The remote software offered with Ultrak's embedded DVR can operate on all current Window's platforms. Some of the benefits include realtime display @ 400 pictures per second (25 PPS for all 16 cameras); 100 PPS recording (6,25 PPS for all 16 cameras); pentaplex (five simultaneous functions); MPEG4 compression(1-4 KB per picture); up to four hard disks, one removeable; front panel, infrared remote, remote keyboard and network control. The system runs on a realtime operating system (RTOS) and is designed for the sole purpose of reliably managing digital video.


In surveillance the main priority should be reliability. According to Ultrak embedded technology has the edge over PC-based DVRs when it comes to reliability. The core reason, says Ultrak, is the embedded operating software is dedicated to managing video, where PC-based operating systems handle multiple processes simultaneously, potentially causing a higher level of failure. The argument is strengthened by the fact that over the past year in excess of 4500 Ultrak embedded DVRs have been commissioned globally, and to date there has been no report of any major system failures.

There can be no doubt that the era of standalone devices is fading, and with the influx of innovative products like webphones, internet TV and PDAs that connect to a single enterprise, clients are demanding network-aware systems as well as standards that let them plug-in and access their systems anytime and anywhere. As stated earlier, there have been considerable advancements in the embedded technology field and this has strengthened the cause for this technology.

"A key factor of any surveillance system is its networking ability," says Ultrak. "The Ultrak system allows for scalability and integration, thereby offering a myriad of features that were previously found only in PC-based systems. These features include high-quality compression techniques, minimising network bandwidth (MPEG4), the ability to control 16 DVRs simultaneously on one remote PC using the multi-IP facility and more importantly, the ability to operate offline." In addition, the DVR automatically archives the video to a removable hard drive thus duplicating all information for reducing the loss of video footage due to a potential hard disk failure.

All about the client

Of course, the advent of digital technology with IT capabilities has also meant that those who control the system are equipped with the necessary ability to operate such systems. Ultrak believes that embedded firmware changes this notion and that a system should be created with the control room operator in mind. "With PC-based systems an operator may be required to operate a system that is beyond his IT expertise. However, embedded technology allows for much easier operation and is more user-friendly, leaving more time for the operator to fulfil his job description with greater ease and functionality." Management on the other hand have the full flexibility of a graphical user interface.

Furthermore, whilst there ought to be no compromise on security, price does play an important role in determining a solution for a particular application - a factor that was taken into consideration by Ultrak when specifying its embedded DVRs. Whilst the emphasis of Ultrak SA is on CCTV, on a global scale Ultrak is instrumental in providing a complete management solution as opposed to a mere security system. With this in mind it aims to offer solutions that encompass all aspects of security at an affordable price, and still able to provide maximum output, scalability, network capability and reliability.

For more information: Chris Koetsier or Mike Emery, 011 608 2251, [email protected]

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