Bosch Security Systems is getting set to excite the security market yet again, this time with the launch of two new ranges of cameras at IFSEC 2014: the IP 8000 and the MIC IP 7000.
This of course is the company that’s famous for the Metal Mickey CCTV camera, celebrated for its robustness and performance in extreme environments. Popular with installers and integrators the world over, the MIC is probably the most distinctive looking camera in general production.
The latest upgrades to the MIC series are its IP versions which Bosch will officially unveil at IFSEC 2014 in London. According to Paul Wong, Managing Director of Bosch Security Systems Ltd, this is the first time in many years that the company has used IFSEC to launch a new product.
The MIC IP 7000 HD range can be supplied with one of two chips: the full HD model which would give you 1920×1080 pixel resolution or the starlight enabled chip, ideal for extremely harsh lighting conditions, with a resolution of 1280×720 pixels.
Wong showed me a demonstration video of the MIC IP starlight 7000 HD in action at night on the streets of a northern city, and despite rain, car headlights and nasty reflections coming off the wet roads, the image was clear and you could even discern subtle shades of colour. “The colour rendition is very good,” says Wong. “The reds come out and the yellow from the sodium street lamps, and the bits of red and yellow on the cars and pavement in really tough lighting conditions. All are still well represented, and we are really happy with the quality here.”
Also on show at IFSEC will be the company’s new 4K ultra HD camera. Based on the Ultra High Definition video standard, 4K ultra HD CCTV cameras will give users double the resolution of full HD. That’s a jump from 1920×1080 pixels to 3840×2160 pixels – twice as tall, twice as wide, and four times as many pixels in the picture.
There is quite a lot of talk in the security market about 4K cameras, but Bosch believes its 4K ultra HD camera will be the first to be commercially available.
Megapixel camera manufacturers will say they got there a long time ago – what’s the big deal? But Wong believes the 4K cameras will have a number of advantages. “Covering a large area and identifying objects at a great distance is challenging. That’s why the 4K ultra HD technology in our DINION IP ultra 8000 MP offers 12 megapixel resolution to deliver amazing detail even when zoomed-in. With an incredibly high frame rate of 20 frames per second for a 12 megapixel camera, you can capture fast moving objects in high resolutions. This speed and these resolutions provide the level of detail that makes the difference when collecting evidence. The images produced are perfect for a detailed and effective retrospective analysis,” he says.
4K ultra HD will open the way to even more challenging security applications. “It will take us into arena security, crowd management and football ground monitoring, because now you are able to get details of faces,” he says.
CBIT is also a standard feature in its MIC units. Content Based Imaging Technology combines information from the sensor, image pipe, encoder and intelligent video analysis to dynamically optimise the image for every scene, achieving a balance between bitrate and image quality to reduce bitrate by up to 50%.
To demonstrate its claims about image quality and bitrate/cost reduction, Bosch conducted a series of customer go-carting events. At these events, it set up one of its cameras plus cameras from three competitors. All the cameras were recorded onto the same system, running a third-party VMS package from a leading supplier.
“We had the event organisers turn down the lights – not completely off of course because we didn’t want the customers crashing into each other! – so the lighting conditions overall were very challenging,” Wong says.
Customers were invited to compare the image quality and compare the amount of storage used by each camera over the two-hour event.
In the events which Bosch ran, its MIC camera consistently beat the other three models in image quality andbitrate. With one brand, Bosch was 5-10% more efficient on bitrate on average, beating it in 10 out of 12 events. The other two cameras were 20-30% less efficient.
Like other camera manufacturers, Bosch is well accustomed to product shootouts and Wong says it will happily respond to challenges from customers. “It’s not unusual to find ourselves stood on a gantry or bridge over a motorway in the middle of the night,” he laughs. “You just hope it isn’t raining.”
As a testament to the popularity of the MIC cameras, Wong points out that they were selected for the M1 motorway extension which has seen cameras deployed every 50-100m, and the company also has extensive installations along the M2 and M6.
A new technology for the company is Dynamic Transcoding. This has been developed to allow customers to monitor their cameras remotely via tablet or mobile phone over slower networks such as 3G. Using the Bosch Video Security app, your mobile device will monitor the quality of the connection and automatically tailor your high resolution video stream to the available bandwidth without compromising video quality.
A demonstration of the technology on an iPad mini was very impressive. The app stores camera details such as IP address and login credentials and can display them either as a list or on a map. Accessing a camera takes seconds and then you can either view recorded data or live video. PTZ cameras can also be controlled with a virtual joystick or simply by holding the iPad at eye level and moving it left to right and up and down.
Bosch has maintained its investment in research and development, spending some 10% of company turnover on R&D. “The MIC IP 7000 HD family has required lots of investment,” he says. “The mechanical parts need to work in all temperatures. They get mounted on vehicles, but the robustness of the product means it gets used in a wide range of environments.”
As a founder member of ONVIF, Bosch also invests heavily in integration and employs a team of people to ensure it interfaces with as many third-party products and systems as possible.
As we wrap up our interview, Wong says he is looking forward to IFSEC. The new venue will mean some change in the audience profile and he – like many in the security industry – is looking forward to seeing just how that will shake down in terms of numbers of installers compared to numbers of end-users.
“The move might change the dynamic, but for us, what we have to show is some new products with interesting new technology behind it, and this will be the first time that the wider security community will have been able to see it, so we are quite excited,” he says.