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Recording in a new age.


MICROPROCESSOR. RS-232 PORT. SOFTWARE. WORDS ONCE associated only with computers have entered the vocabulary of time-lapse recorder manufacturers, dealers, and users.

The time-lapse recorder is no longer simply a mechanical closed-circuit television (CCTV) tool that records on tape what the camera sees. It is now an intelligent, programmable electronic device that can communicate with electronic cash registers (ECRs), automatic teller machines (ATMs), and other digital devices. The recorder gathers data from such devices, reads the information, selects items of interest to the user, and overlays the resulting text onto the picture taken by the camera.

Time-lapse recorders are able to communicate with other electronic devices and operate by remote control via an RS-232 port. The RS-232 port is the most commonly used telecommunications interface in the computer industry.

With an RS-232 interface, the time-lapse recorder user can

* combine a complete list of cash register journal data with the video of the transaction scene,

* record identification data of individuals using key cards in access control areas, and

* record all transaction data at ATMs and ATM links such as electronic gasoline pumps and grocery store cash dispensing machines.

Time-lapse recorders have more programmable features than ever before. Key among these are the increased number of alarm features. Some recorders can be programmed to respond differently to suspicious and normal alarm situations. The recorder can, for example, be programmed to trigger a warning light in a manager's office during a suspicious event. The normal alarm output might be the activation of an audible alarm.

Other programmable features include the following:

* Alarm memory. This allows the user to query the microprocessor to find when alarms or power losses occurred.

* Alarm search. When an alarm occurs, the time-lapse recorder marks the tape. When the tape is replayed, the recorder fast forwards to that point for user review.

* Read after write. This important feature constantly verifies that the recorder is being fed good video from the camera, quads, switchers, etc., and is recording a usable signal.

* Recycle record defeat. This allows the user to specify what happens when the tape comes to its end. For instance, the time-lapse recorder could be programmed to rewind and rerecord at the end of the tape unless an alarm had been recorded. In this case, the recorder would sound an alarm to notify the user that the tape had come to its end and needed to be reviewed.

State-of-the-art time-lapse recorders are performing the function of more than one piece of equipment. One example is the introduction of time-lapse recorders with built-in camera switchers. Time-lapse recorders and camera switchers operate hand in hand at the command center of multicamera CCTV systems. The switcher directs the camera recording sequence, while the time-lapse recorder captures the camera views on videotape. By consolidating these important features, two indispensable CCTV components are available in one compact unit.

A time-lapse recorder with a built-in switcher allows the user to program individual camera on/off times, switching sequence, and dwell times. During nonalarm periods, the switcher either sequences according to the user's program or switches between cameras using its built-in software program. An alarm input calls up the switcher's automatic homing mode or a user programmed sequence to ensure the recorder is locked into the cameras with the active alarm.

Not only are time-lapse recorders performing more functions but they are also lasting longer. In the early days of video, most recorders operated mechanically. Because of the number of moving parts, time-lapse recorders had a shorter life and more down-time than they do today. Parts frequently had to be replaced. The new time-lapse recorders operate more electronically and are microprocessor-based. A user can expect more years of service than ever before with these systems.

AS TIME-LAPSE RECORDER CAPAbilities have increased, the number of market applications has multiplied. The time-lapse recorder industry has evolved from a standardized-product business to one that designs unique products for specific market applications. Intelligent time-lapse recorders that superimpose text onto the videotape are used in numerous applications, including ATMs, convenience stores, truck delivery sites and weigh stations, inventory control, vehicles, remote sites, and large facilities.

ATMs. Some security systems dealers find ATM systems comprise the largest share of their business. Using the latest in time-lapse recorder technology, bank, savings and loan, and credit union executives document entire transactions in a single visual record. All key financial data, such as the transaction time, date, terminal number, and transaction number, are combined with the picture of the customer.

These intelligent systems give financial institutions protection against fraudulent claims. If a bank customer disputes a deduction from his or her account for cash dispensed by ATMs, the burden of proof falls on the financial institution. Now savings institution managers can locate the transaction number on the videotape and call the customer to identify the person on the videotape.

Because the time-lapse recorder is connected to the ATM host computer via the RS-232 port, the recorder uses the ATM computer's date and time clock. The information printed on the videotape is identical to that on the receipt produced by the ATM. In the past, if the time-lapse recorder's internal date and time were not exactly synchronized with the ATM computer's time clock, the time on the picture would not coincide with the time printed on the ATM withdrawal slip. Court cases have been dismissed in which there was only a five minute difference between the time on the video and the withdrawal slip.

Convenience stores. The number one cause of inventory shrinkage at convenience stores is employee theft at the cash register. With an older video-only system, the store manager could see what was sold but found it difficult to see what was entered into the register. To get a clearer understanding of the situation, the manager had to compare the video picture with the cash register tape. This was tedious, time-consuming, and not very effective.

The new systems use built-in interfaces to link the time-lapse recorder to the cash register electronically. Because data from the cash register is combined with the time-lapse video, the store manager can see what merchandise was purchased, what items and amounts were entered at the cash register, how payment was made, where the money was deposited, and what change was given.

The intelligent time-lapse recorder can be programmed to display certain exceptions, such as voids, no sales, cash refunds, and cash drawer open. The text commonly programmed for display on the videotape includes the date, time, items purchased with quantities and prices, total cost with amount tendered and change amount, transaction number, register number, and operator name.

Delivery sites and weigh stations. Intelligent time-lapse recorders are also being used at toxic waste and refuse sites and truck weigh stations. A disposal site in Philadelphia uses an intelligent time-lapse recorder to ensure proper customer billing. Charges depend on the type and weight of the disposed load. The data entered into the computer at the scales, such as how much a truck weighed, its license number, and what it was hauling, is combined with the picture of the truck driver.

Inventory control. In distribution centers and warehouses, the new time-lapse recorders are used in conjunction with bar code scanning devices for inventory control. A camera watches the conveyor belt. The data recorded by the bar code scanner, such as product number, product description, quantity, and weight, is combined with the picture of the labeled item or box as it is loaded into a truck. If the product is not delivered to its destination, the tape is reviewed. The system is designed to curtail truck driver or warehouse employee theft.

Vehicles and remote sites. Portable time-lapse recorders are used in law enforcement vehicles, buses, airplanes, and other locations where the lack of a 117 VAC power source previously complicated video recording. For applications that demand on-the-go video recording, recorders exist that will operate on either 117 VAC power or on a standard 12 VDC battery. For more remote sites, DC power allows the user to employ solar energy by connecting solar panels to the battery.

Portable time-lapse recorders are also employed in military reconnaissance aircraft. The latitude and longitude recorded by the on-flight computer are combined with the video taken by a camera focused on the ground. This system curtails pilots' joyrides.

Large facilities. For large military, industrial, and research facility applications, recorders that interface with the access control system are installed in each building and linked via the RS-232 port to an off-site security control room. Ford Motor Company uses such a system in its new-products development lab.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in northern California employs a remote control system to monitor its high security buildings. The data generated by the access control system when a key card is inserted, such as the card holder name, is combined with the picture of the person entering.

Similar systems can also be used to prevent unauthorized exits. Officials at a government research and development site suspected a leak of classified information from a particular computer room. An intelligent time-lapse recorder and pinhole-lens camera were installed. The recorder was connected to the printers in the room and programmed to alarm if sensitive information was printed. The system recorded the information printing and filmed the suspect removing the printed sheets from the room. This evidence resulted in a conviction.

Over the last five years, as time-lapse recorders have increased in intelligence, capabilities, and picture resolution, they have decreased in price. This has occurred because of increased competition, increased sales, improved technological advances, and manufacturing efficiencies.

These developments have lowered the price of CCTV systems as a whole. As the functions of other equipment, such as switchers, have been incorporated into recorders, the amount of equipment needed in a CCTV system has been reduced. Often, fewer cameras are needed with the new intelligent recorders due to their ability to interface with other digital devices. The user no longer must rely on multiple cameras to capture the details of an activity.

As the video industry combines computer technology with time-lapse recorders, it will continue to adopt the computer industry jargon. Terms like small footprint are becoming more common in references to time-lapse recorders.

Recorders will decrease in size as they increase in ability, following the trend of other high-technology devices. Security equipment experts predict, for example, that a more compact recorder will result in increased recorder use in police patrol vehicles and in other applications where space is at a premium.

Customized software will also continue to be the trend. Newly developed internal time-lapse recorder software will be designed for each market segment. Recorder manufacturers are realizing that a convenience store's security needs are very different from those of a military base or federal prison.

Manufacturers will also begin to add user friendly to their vocabulary. As time-lapse recorders perform more functions, they run the risk of becoming more complicated to operate. Manufacturers who are sensitive to the marketplace will develop recorders that are not only more intelligent but also easy to use.

Thomas S. Pappageorge is the national sales manager for Gyyr, a division of Odetics, in Anaheim, CA. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Closed-Circuit Television
Author:Pappageorge, Thomas S.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Nov 1, 1989
Previous Article:A system to satisfy.
Next Article:Seeing into the future.

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