Texas Instruments Inc. is pushing its DSPs into an emerging market with multibillion-dollar potential: digital-recorder security.
Panasonic Co.'s Security and Digital Imaging unit has introduced a digital recorder based on TI's TMS320C6x DSP. Targeted at small to midsize businesses, the recorder provides about three times the image storage capacity found in traditional analog security systems based on VHS tapes, TI said.
The company contends that DSP-based digital hard-disk controllers will have wide appeal in commercial and residential security systems.
"We're in the early stages of the move to change the storage media from analog tape to digital hard disks," said Vincent McNeil, worldwide network-camera business manager at TI. "DSPs are ideal for processing images and visual data, and there's an explosion now in what you can put on the Internet with the increase in broadband connectivity."
Digital hard-disk recorders are expected to provide a number of advantages over analog systems, McNeil said. The hard-disk controllers are much more rugged and reliable than VHS tape, provide improved resolution and picture quality, and can be programmed, monitored, and digitally manipulated remotely via an Internet connection.
Traditional security systems have multiple closed-circuit TV cameras that feed into a central control room where the images are recorded onto a VHS tape. In many cases, the systems use time-lapse recording techniques to collect data from the multiple cameras, and recording is often reduced to one to five frames per second to preserve tape space, which reduces picture quality, McNeil said.
Digital hard-disk systems can be programmed to operate in an event-driven recording mode, so that recording occurs only when motion is detected, allowing improved recordings of 15 frames/s. The system can also be set up to record constantly at 1 frame/s, and increase to 15 frames/s when motion is detected.
Customers needing to review analog security tapes must search manually for specific timed events. A digital recorder can automatically mark recordings for data, time, and alarm events for instant access, McNeil said.
Security officials and business owners will also be able to access security monitoring systems via Internet links, as opposed to having to be physically present at a central office to view the analog tapes.
"A guy who owns a franchised 7-11 and gets an alarm in the middle of the night can dial up on his computer and see what's going on," McNeil said. "In residential security, you could put cameras around the house, and when you go out of town you can dial up and check on the house. If someone went in the yard, you'd get an e-mail."
The worldwide market for video cameras, digital recorders, and networked digital video servers should total about $1.1 billion this year and is expected to grow at a 25% compound annual rate, according to security market research firm J.P. Freeman Co. Inc., New Town, Conn.
"The emergence of networked digital video in the security industry is an accelerating growth trend as a widening array of video applications are created by different user groups," said Joe Freeman, president and chief executive of J.P. Freeman. "It's quite possible to see explosive growth in the residential market as innovations steadily merge security electronics into home control networks."
McNeil said TI is working with several OEMs on digital hard-disk controllers, although Panasonic is the only company to announce a product. Panasonic's WJ-HD100 should be available in the third quarter, and will provide 24 hours of continuous time-lapse operation.
"TI's digital-recorder-engine solution assisted Panasonic in developing a cost-effective, reliable, and competitive digital-recorder product, and provided design flexibility for performance upgrades that are fully compatible with existing software," said Takayoshi Hasegawa, general manager of the Audio-Video Systems Division at MCI/Panasonic.
TI's DSP-based digital-recorder solution will support all common digital image and video compression formats, including Motion JPEG, H.263, MPEG-4, and JPEG2000, as well as compressed-udio digital formats such as G.711, G.723, and G.726, McNeil said.
TI competitor Analog Devices Inc., Norwood, Mass., is targeting the video-surveillance market with its ADV601, a DSP optimized for video processing, according to a company spokeswoman.