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DVR, biometrics lead the security industry

Posted: 01 Apr 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:dvr? digital video recorder? biometrics? security system? fingerprint identification?

The 9/11 terrorist attack plus the bomb horrors in Bali and the Philippines opened great opportunities in the security industry. Thus, despite the global economy slowdown, many countries are increasing their funds in enforcing new security systems.

The security industry can be classified into two areas: software/data security and hardware/physical security. There is also biometrics, which is a gray section between the two areas. This article will focus on the physical aspect of security, particularly digital video recorder (DVR), which has a high growth potential. In addition, biometrics will also be reviewed briefly.

Physical security segment includes physical access control and monitoring system such as CCTV, security gate, and door lock. These physical access control systems can be divided largely into the ones using biometrics technology such as fingerprint, face and iris identification, and the ones using RF IC cards. The price competitiveness is forcing local biometrics companies to implement security systems with hardware imported from Taiwan, and instead focus on the development of applications.

But in the CCTV arena, a major market for physical access control systems, local companies are doing well with digital technologies like DVR. It quickly replaced conventional analog technology with its various value-added features such as high resolution, networking, and powerful search function.

In the biometrics field, 64.7 percent of the 50 Korean companies are specializing in fingerprint identification. The reason behind this is that fingerprint identification is a cheaper means of personal authentication and can be easily implemented. There is also a constant demand for it. The market for biometrics technologies like face, iris, voiceprint, vein, palm, and ear biometrics is also increasing gradually. The concept of multi-mode biometrics, which attempts to overcome the inherent shortcomings of individual biometrics, is progressing as well.

DVR replaces analog

The global CCTV market is expected to improve in the next few years, thanks to the recognition of security needs and the price-down trends. Meanwhile, DVR continues to show positive development since it was commercialized in 1997. According to the J.P. Freeman report, the annual average growth rate of DVR in the world market from 2001 to 2005 is expected to reach 47 percent. The market size is forecasted to reach $600 million last year, $1.2 billion this year, $1.7 billion next year, and finally, $2.4 billion in 2005.

"In the DVR segment, the market share of CCTV (analog) vs. DVR (digital) will become something like 50:50, two years from now," said Hoon Jang, deputy general manager of the strategic planning team at 3R Inc. According to Lim Byeong-Jin, president of Sungjin C&C Co. Ltd, the current ratio of the local market's analog VCR vs. DVR is around 7:3. But with the expansion of network and resulting popularity increase of DVR, the ratio will be reversed within the next three years. "Currently, the ratio of DVR replacement in the world market is still less than 5 percent," Lim said. He explained that in the Korean market, the ratio of replacement by DVR, in terms of percentage, is currently 7:8. "Even though the U.S. market is the biggest in terms of market size, the replacement will be done fastest in Korea. Considering the replacement period, the DVR market is expected to mature after five years," he added.

In the early 1990s, VCR-based analog products had been used in the CCTV systems in physical access control systems for banks, public offices, stores, and streets. However, from the mid-1990s, the trend is shifting towards using digital monitoring system such as DVR, because of its image compression algorithm. Even though it is still in its infancy stage, the DVR is expected to replace all existing analog CCTV system soon. With its replacement ratio still falling short at 10 percent, the annual average growth rate for the world DVR market is expected to grow to as high as 84.7 percent by 2005.

Local DVR companies like 3R, Sungjin C&C, Kodicom and Intelligent Digital Integrated Security (IDIS) are capable of developing a variety of applications with their DVR technologies. They are actively seeking global market. Firms like LG Information and Communications, Samsung Electronics and Posdata are also aggressively making inroads into this market, making the competition between companies even fiercer.

DVR advantages

An analog system using VTR method has inferior image quality compared to digital system. Moreover, repeated use of analog systems further degrades its image quality. Its storage capacity is also smaller. Other disadvantages include inconvenient search function and incapability to track motion. For these reasons, local companies have almost stopped manufacturing the VCR-based analog system.

On the other hand, DVR has high image quality and is capable of compressing the size of the recorded video images with image compression standards like MPEG-4. It can also maintain the high image quality for a longer period, provides powerful search functions through the use of time or event index, and allows easy editing and transmission. It also allows users to remotely monitor security areas through network. For example, 3R is already developing a transmission program to send the video image captured by Web cameras to mobile terminals like PDAs and cellphones. The company is also developing a network video server (NVS), which enables Web-monitoring by sending the monitored video images through the network. As the NVS is 30 percent lower than DVR in price, it provides an alternative to users.

"In the future, high resolution DVR products with image quality approaching DTV level will be introduced," said Lim. At present, some local companies are already introducing DVR products with DVD-level resolution (640-by-480 pixels). 3R is currently developing technology that implements higher-than-DVD resolutions. Its target applications include analysis-oriented markets like the military or casinos. Features like enabling a user to combine only the channels that he/she wants to watch and enabling multiple DVR systems to work together are also developed recently.

Standalone DVR market

The DVR system can be divided into PC-based and standalone DVR. For security systems that normally operate 24 hours a day, system reliability is a key element. As the PC-based DVR presents reliability problems due to its OS, standalone systems are becoming more popular because it can adopt embedded OS like Windows 2000/XP or Linux. It is also affordable and easier to install and use.

Another disadvantage of a PC-based DVR is its burdened CPU, with too much load during image compression. To solve the problem, standalone DVR performs the compression with a hardware chip. It also solved the recording speed problem by using a hardware chip instead of a software, implementing the channel speed of over 30fps for each of its 16 channels. The development of MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 technology enables it to save HDD cost without compromising its video image quality.

"As the standalone DVR market is at its introduction stage right now, low-end products will be more popular than its high-end versions in the next three years. Approximately 100 companies in Korea are related to DVR system production, and have taken the lead in the DVD world market with superior technology," predicted Lim.

3R jumped in the DVR sector in 1999, and claimed that it is the world's first company to introduce the term "DVR." The company operates three teams including PC-based DVR (PDVR), embedded DVR (EDVR) and NVS R&D teams. 3R has six patents in DVD fundamental technology, and is applying for 10 more patents. The watermarking methodology from 3R prevents falsification of moving pictures and is expected to be used in the court in gathering evidences. It is also developing large-capacity recording devices for DVR and multi-compression codec technology, allowing users to choose any algorithm along with image quality and recording time.

Recently, DVR price has decreased continuously. "Our strategy is focusing on high quality systems with reasonable image quality, superior suppression rate and other value-added features, rather than low-priced device," said Jang Hoon, 3R's manager.

In recent DVR technology trends, storage capacity becomes more important than image quality. Current DVD system exhibits resolution of over 640 pixels x 480 pixels at 30 fps. Manufacturers highlight on extension ability and wire/wireless network functions, rather than image quality. The availability of these features divides the DVR market into high-end and low-end products. To meet such a trend, Korean companies concentrate on developing unique key components and algorithms, while diversifying business model via security camera technology.

DVR chip, a hot issue

The DVR system is comprised of an image compression chip, screen divider device, CPU, memory device, network chip (TCP/IP) and DAC/ADC. Korean companies like Pentamicro, A-Logic, NCS and Sunjin C&C are focusing on developing image compression chip, screen divider device and other value-added chips.

Pentamicro has already released MultiStream II (AT2021), a multi-channel MPEG-2 image suppression chip. The company claims that AT2021 supports up to 16 channels, while previous MPEG2 chip supports only one channel. As a result, one AT2021 chip can operate DVR with four to 16 cameras. Jeong Sei-Jin, Pentamicro's CEO, said that five large foreign companies revived MPEG-2 chips, providing better performance than JPEG, MPEG-1 and H.263. However, the chips were designed for consumer electronics application rather than for security systems, he added. "AT2021 features motion detection function, which compresses image only when a subject is moving without using additional sensors. Besides, many competitors' devices do not support this feature, which cause more management cost and hardware loss," Jeong said.

The other device from Pentamicro is NoiseMaster II (AT4022), which enhances image quality by eliminating noise areas and preserving the original image signal. The device also increases compression efficiency when the chip is applied in the system. In the low illumination environment, data capacity dramatically increases after image compression due to the noise generated by security cameras. Logically, data capacity at night-time shot is larger than day-time shot. NoiseMaster II claims to solve the trouble with motion adapted time filtering (MATF) technology.

MATF is designed to sense movement between frames using vector alignment statistic methodology, then excludes frames having motion and calculates the average of each R, G and B channels. According to the test results in low illumination environment, AT4022 decreases data capacity of up to 80 percent after compression. "As security chip market is expanding, large and middle companies will run for compression chip development. We need a special device like the NoiseMaster II to lead the market," said Jeong.

Pentamicro unveiled its new MultiQuad II and MultiQuad III devices last quarter. These products will enable multi-channel image compression, multi-flexing and various screen functions.

The local market for DVR is $42 million to $50 million, while the export market is $75 million to $83 million. It means that 60 percent to 70 percent of the DVR market share comes from exports. Korean companies comprise more than 50 percent of the worldwide DVR market. "Although domestic DVR companies are only two to three years old and their brand recognition is weaker than larger companies, they have cost-competitive products and sophisticated technologies such as product reliability, network and search function," said Hoon.

3R mainly markets China rather than the United States. This is due to China's law on setting up security facilities in their financial agencies; and so, the demand for their products is high.

Countries embrace biometrics

Biometrics is expected to be the fastest growing market in the security industry. Biometrics recognize personal identification through the analysis of biometric data. According to the International Biometrics Industry Association (IBIA), the annual sales revenue in the worldwide biometric industry is expected to reach $2 billion in 2006 from $0.2 billion last year. The market share of biometrics product in the Asia Pacific is also expected to reach 32 percent in 2006 from only 9 percent in 2001.

There are various security applications of biometrics. Some of which are passport, VISA, airport security systems, access control and car security control system. The largest market in security applications is citizen membership card followed by PC/network, access control, electronic online trade, crime investigation, ATM/POS, and CCTV. These devices are supplied to government offices, financial institutions and travel agencies.

According to the reports of Jung Yonghwa, team leader of ETRI biometrics forum held in Korea last January, the United States is already using biometric systems in airline security. In fact, a biometrics bill has already been submitted.

Britain is also studying the "smart passport" system within four years. Smart passport includes biometric information to identify its citizen. Heathrow airport is already testing an immigration control system using the iris identification. Germany has also approved the biometric passport. Canada has invested $79 million in biometric technology. Japan is also developing a new passport system that will use face and iris identification technology to prohibit falsification. The said passport will be available in November next year.

Korea's biometric technology began in fingerprint and vein identification sensor four years ago. Today, technologies such as face, iris, voice-print and handwriting identification are under way. However, Korea's biometrics technology is not as advanced as in other developed countries. Its biometrics export is still limited to fingerprint and vein identification. Korea's major markets are North America and other Asian countries. Exports in other regions are quite few. Local sales are not as good either because of the delay in hardware development. Local companies have difficulties penetrating the international market where it is more profitable.

- Park Dongwook & Kwon Yong-Wook

Electronic Engineering Times - Asia





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