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2012

Digital security surveillance (DSS) is changing expectations for video surveillance around the world. And this includes mobile applications. Gone are the days when people will accept fuzzy, grainy images from traditional analog video surveillance equipment. High resolution images and high definition video provide better evidence and enable secondary uses of the video for applications such as training. In addition, intelligent network video recorders (NVRs) make possible advanced video analytics for motion detection, loitering/dwell time, left-behind objects, license plate recognition, and more.

 

In this blog, I want to look at the design challenges for embedded developers of mobile NVRs. These challenges include the rugged environments of life on the road, riding the rails, plying the oceans, or flying at 30,000 feet. Such tough, power-constrained operating conditions call for fanless, small footprint designs that sip power, but provide all the performance necessary for handling the input from multiple cameras, processing the video, and storing and exporting. It’s a lot to ask of a little box bolted on the floor of a bus or similar moving environment.

 

To give developers of mobile DSS systems a head start, a number of companies in the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance provide market-ready mobile NVR solutions that fulfill all these requirements. The 200-plus members of the Alliance collaborate closely with Intel to create hardware, software, tools, and services to help speed intelligent systems to market. These include a wide range of solutions designed around the latest Intel® architecture (IA) processors, which offer a number of features that benefit rugged designs. Let’s briefly review these new features and then look at some Alliance solutions.

 

Getting Familiar with the Processors

For higher end mobile NVRs, 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor-based platforms currently deliver best-in-class performance and reliability for ruggedized applications. Intel’s new 3D tri-gate transistor technology and 22nm process technology deliver higher performance per watt over previous-generation processors—a critical feature for rugged applications requiring high performance and energy efficiency in high temperature environments. With up to 20% better performance in the same thermal envelope as the previous generation, these processors make it easier to achieve performance goals in a fanless design.

 

Especially important for DSS applications, the upgraded graphics engine delivers up to 1.8x faster video transcode (and 36 percent faster decode), along with up to 60 percent faster graphics performance. The result is faster video processing with less CPU loading—another important advantage for fanless designs. What’s more, by integrating next-generation I/O technologies such as PCI Express* Gen 3 and USB 3.0, this new generation processor offers faster connectivity for handling multiple, simultaneous real-time video streams. (To learn more about 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor graphics, I/O and power advantages, see my colleague Kenton Williston’s blog on this processor series.)

 

For even more power-constrained applications, NVRs based on the new Intel® Atom™ processor N2000 and D2000 series (formerly codenamed “Cedar Trail”) also provide significant performance upgrades with up to 4x the 3D graphics performance of their predecessors. Important for DSS applications, the graphics engine on these Intel® Atom™ processors perform 1080p hardware video decode. For more details, I recommend another Kenton Williston blog discussing the latest Intel® Atom™ processors.

 

Ready to Market NVRs

These new processor series provide excellent performance and power advantages that Alliance members use to develop their mobile NVR products. A good example is the Advantech TREK-668 (see Figure 1). Designed for in-vehicle surveillance and fleet management for police, ambulance, fire engine, bus and train, it uses an Intel® Atom™ processor N2600 series to support high-quality, MPEG-4, MJPEG, H.264 recording, and transmission for up to 16 camera inputs. To draw minimal power, the 1.66 GHz N2600 features 3.5 W thermal design power (TDP) and supports Intel® Deep Power Down Technology. This technology significantly reduces power usage during idle period, an important consideration for in-vehicle use.

 

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Figure 1. Advantech TREK-668.

 

Requiring minimal power itself, the TREK-668 has one power-sourcing equipment (PSE) switch to provide Power over Ethernet (PoE) for an IP camera. Eachcamera input provides motion detection capabilities and a hybrid recording function using Advantech Power View software allows for image transmission as either digital video signals or as analog video signals. The TREK-668’s dual display/dual audio interfaces support different resolutions. As for connectivity, the TREK-668 can transmit images or alarms for remote monitoring over a wireless, GPRS, 3G, or HSDPA network connection. It even includes GPS with AGPS and dead reckoning technology for vehicle tracking and positioning.

    

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Figure 2. The business end (back) of the NEXCOM NViS 3542P8.

 

For even more PoE ports (up to eight) and higher end video processing and I/O performance, DSS developers can turn to the NEXCOM NViS 3542P8 (seeFigure 2). This ruggedized mobile NVR series enables 16 channels of high resolution surveillance videos to be instantly transmitted from IP cameras to surveillance platforms and remote sites. It’s currently based on 2nd generationIntel® Core™ i7/i5 processors (also an excellent choice for mobile NVRs), but I talked with NEXCO  and they plan to evaluate a possible switch to 3rdgeneration later this year. The PoE-integrated NViS 3542P8 supports high bandwidth GbE LAN, PoE interface, GPS communication, WAN/WLAN connectivity, and hot swappable HDD. With its integrated graphics engine, Intel® Turbo Boost and Intel® Hyper-Threading Technologies, the Intel Core processor provides excellent graphics capability for processing HD content playback and recording in real time without the expense or power cost of an external graphics card. The NViS 3542 series’ 3G/3.5G/Wi-Fi connectivity, along with its GPS capabilities, enable personnel to remotely access video footage and location information to rapidly make informed decisions on how to respond to various situations.

 

Another compelling solution for mobile surveillance on public transportation is the IEI TANK-700 embedded PC. This fanless, rugged 8-channel audio/video capture solution is designed to handle the dust and vibration of life on the move. Currently available on request with a 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor, it’s capable of compressing and decompressing full HD (1920x1080) video in real-time without increasing CPU loading. It includes three integrated antennas and supports dual-band 2.4/5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n 3T3R MIMO technology to provide up to 450Mbps wide bandwidth operation. With the DirectX 10.1/OpenGL 3.0/Full MPEG-2/WMV (VC-1)/H.264 (AVC) Hardware Encoding/Transcoding Technology, the TANK-700/720 series makes the media transcoding process more efficient and enables easier broadcasting.

 

In addition to low-power mobile NVR solutions like these, Alliance members offer a number of rugged, energy efficient board solutions based on Intel® architecture for developers to use in designing their own mobile NVRs. Have a mobile DSS design project? Let me know what you’re looking for in a market-ready NVR or embedded board.

  
security_analytics[1].pngTo learn more about DSS solutions based on Intel processors, read Intel’s end-to-end guide on Building Digital Security & Surveillance Systems Based on Intel Technology.

 

Advantech is a Premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. NEXCOM and IEI are Associate members of the Alliance.

 

Mark Scantlebury

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Mobile Asia Expo conference in Shanghai. Among many interesting topics discussed by an impressive group of industry executives, the issues surrounding network monetization appeared to stand out in terms of their importance to carrier profitability.

 

Several keynotes and panel sessions at the conference discussed two related problems. Despite the exponential growth in mobile Internet traffic, overall ARPUs are declining for most carriers, threatening the financial model for the further network investment that is required to match capacity demands. In parallel, OTT services such as IP-based messaging and mobile video not only drive the explosion of mobile data traffic but also massively impact carrier revenues. As an illustration, Xu Weizhong, President of Packet Core Networks at Huawei, stated that Skype “has killed $18B in Telco revenues by the end of 2011”.

 

One approach to the OTT issue was discussed by Dr. Choi Jin-Sung, Senior VP and Head of SK Telecom’s strategy office. Dr. Choi explained that Korean mobile carriers are experiencing decreased SMS revenues and increased network investment costs to accommodate surging traffic, caused by the popularity of free OTT messaging services such as KaKao Talk used by 37 million Koreans. In response to this competitive threat, SKT is preparing an RCS-based service in partnership with other Korean carriers and plans to link this service to other carriers. SKT is also implementing Smart Push, its proprietary technology that enables integrated management of keep-alive signals, to prevent network overload. SKT is entering into MOUs with Samsung and Nokia-Siemens Networks to promote overseas adoption of Smart Push-embedded equipment.

 

China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua stated that the carrier will overcome network monetization challenges by focusing on cloud computing, faster network technology, the “Internet of Things” and its Wireless City initiatives. Xi Guohua mentioned that, while historically the value chain was dominated by operators, it now includes device manufacturers and content providers. The ranking of operators in the FTSE 500 is dropping, while others are improving. Besides the challenge of ever-increasing network pressure, Xi Guohua stated that carriers must overcome the perception that they are simply “dumb pipe” providers, embracing the fact that the traditional telco business model is facing competitive threats. Industry growth will create big opportunities for carriers, fuelled by a 2.1 billion mobile Internet customer base by 2015 driving CAGR of 24 percent. China Mobile will take full advantage of this growth through a focus on cloud computing and the Internet of Things.

 

During a roundtable session, the CTOs of four Asian mobile operators outlined the challenges facing their networks because of the explosion in data caused by OTT services. The new CTO of NTT DoCoMo, Seizo Onoe, remarked that it was not just data volumes but usage patterns that are creating issues. The solution, he said, was to focus on “services that only the operators can provide... to avoid being the dumb pipe.” The CTO of Australian market-leader Telstra, Hugh Bradlow, argued that challenges must be framed in terms of the user experience: “We don’t think in terms of OTT services and our own services; we think about what our customers are asking for.” He noted that Telstra’s network was a major differentiator and that he was looking to their Joyn (RCS) platform to recreate the “simplicity and reliability” of SMS.

 

Kaoru Kato, the new President and CEO of NTT DoCoMo, explained that much of their future focus will be on the delivery of cloud-based services, stating that cloud technology is key to realizing smartphone services. At the heart of this initiative are “network cloud” services, which will see the carrier’s network used to power intelligent services available to many devices, enabling it to avoid being marginalized as a mere “pipe” provider. Examples of these services include the “Shabett Concier” voice assistant (positioned as an even better service than Apple’s Siri) and a translation service which currently supports ten languages. Kato also highlighted NTT DoCoMo’s plan to increase value creation through convergence with other industries, mentioning partnerships in media, M2M, healthcare, finance and commerce.

 

During a panel discussion, there was consensus among executives from Australia’s Telstra, Japan’s SoftBank and the Philippines’ Globe Telecom that the ability to understand customer needs and price products effectively is the key to competing with OTT players. Gil Genio from Globe mentioned the need for advanced capabilities in billing and analysis, while SoftBank’s Yoshihiko Nodera said that the carrier was considering a two-sided business model combining a “communications charge” with a “content charge” alongside its tiered flat-rate model. Telstra’s Mike Wright, however, commented that simplicity in pricing was critical and it was essential not to complicate things for the consumer.

 

Clearly, many of the smartest minds in the telco industry are focused on these business-critical challenges. At the end of the day, however, the business models that subscribers enjoy today are unsustainable and someone needs to pay more in order for carriers to be able to make the network investments that are required. Either the OTT providers need to pay for the privilege of using the carrier’s pipes, or subscribers (meaning you, me and the billion teenagers who are driving the traffic growth) need to pay for the enhanced, value-added services that the carriers are developing.

 

Were you at Mobile Asia Expo? What’s your take on this question? Will the initiatives that these carriers outlined be enough to address the business challenges caused by the OTT providers? Ultimately, who will pay?

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