Monitoring behaviour with video analytics

April 2010 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

Video Analytics will enable market research companies to better understand consumer trends.

Thanks to the collective intelligence of three South African entrepreneurs, CCTV video surveillance boundaries have now been extended to perform functions beyond that of monitoring suspicious or criminal activity. Now CCTV technology is on the cusp of a new performance era, in which it will be used to perform the function of market research analysis.

The same video technology that monitors and records suspicious or criminal activity can now be integrated with a market research programme. All the technology requires is a different algorithm. “This market research programme will be able to perform market research on a company’s daily business activity in order to ascertain consumers’ antics, movements and sales mindsets,” enthuses Kevin Pearman, CCTV specialist and one of the partners in the concept.

“This is something that is new to the market,” says Pearman. “It has never been explored before, yet the concept has been staring us in the face every day. Our solution is literally about expanding the dimension of the traditional use of video analytics to that of a business tool.”

Pearman says proof of concept has already been approved and it is now literally a case of rolling the solution out nationally and globally.

The technology behind this research is Video IQ, a product Pearman distributed while working for Bytes Technology Group. Andrew Page Wood, the person responsible for bringing Video IQ to South Africa, believed that he and Kevin could explore a wider range of business solutions using this technology. The two, together with Craig Henderson of Complete Security, worked on the concept and within a short space of time produced a proposal which they presented to a market research company late last year. “The research company was over the moon about our solution and immediately bought the rights to it,” boasts Pearman.

Changing the face of consumer research

Track and trace

“Monitoring consumer behaviour is something that is definitely going to evolve in the future. Video technology essentially amounts to the ‘track and trace’ theory,” explains Pearman. “The same old adage that has been applied to security CCTV surveillance can also be applied to consumer tracking. By using the Video IQ methodology in which camera systems are placed in specific areas or environments, we can track and trace consumer behaviour, and ultimately determine consumer trends.”

Dwell Time

Event driven video analytics will allow the camera to start recording if a consumer dwells in a certain zone for a long period. “It is all based on dwell time,” explains Pearman. “The camera will only start recording when you are in that zone for a certain length of time; it will not record useless footage.”

By expanding the profile of the cameras, consumer researchers can analyse and push out dashboard reports on consumer behaviour says Pearman. “Businesses can better understand market behaviour in stores, what drives a person to a specific spot in the store, who is busy in the store at specific times of the day, age group trends, what is the consumer buying, the time they spent in a specific area of the shop etc. What currently takes an hour to analyse three minutes of video footage on consumer behavioural patterns, has been reduced by 50%.”

Where to now?

“This solution may be a first, yet in hindsight it has in actual fact been staring us all in the face, just under a different guise,” comments Pearman. “And the beauty of this system is that companies can integrate its function for both security and marketing purposes. A system that can expand its functions by allowing for different algorithms to be embodied within the system is a technology of the future.

“Watch and wait,” concludes Pearman. “Whatever happens, the market must first understand that this product, like so many others in the industry, is relationship driven; without the chain of supplier, installer and end user being firmly intact, the solution cannot work effectively. The supplier may have an outstanding product, but it is the systems integrator who is the one who has to get it up and running.

“It is all about people, process and technology. If you do not have the right people, the technology will not work.”

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