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Technology Assuring a Bright Future for CCTV.

The future for the closed-circuit television industry looks very bright. I've read authoritative estimates that indicate that closed-circuit TV sales should double by 1988. From where I sit, I see no reason to argue with those figures.

There are several reasons for this expected growth. For example, both employers and employees are accepting the fact that closed-circuit surveillance systems can protect and benefit them. Most workers no longer reflect the "big brother is watching" attitude. They are beginning to realize that these systems can cut their employers' looses--which could mean more job security and bigger paychecks. And honest employees appreciate that CCTV protects them, too--as well as the business.

More and more we're seeing cameras and monitors supplementing guards at retail stores and other types of businesses. Equipment can be highly visible if wanted--or be installed unobtrusively--whatever the situation calls for. Either way, customers accept it as a part of normal business activity. Large retail chain store organizations are increasingly recognizing the value of CCTV, too. Recently, RCA was a major equipment supplier to the newest Sears store in the King of Prussia Shopping Mall, near Philadelphia. Sears now includes CCTV in all of its new stores, as well as in the remodeling of other major stores. And in smaller stores, leasing of a closed-circuit system can make CCTV more affordable than ever. We see systems being used more frequently, for example, in Jewelry, drug and convenience-store operations.

At the other end of the scale, where the most sophisticated systems are used--large industries including government contractors--are turning to CCTV to protect their facilities and reduce losses. The export market is expanding, too--especially in developing countries.

In fact, I see closed-circuit TV market moving in two ways at once: the large, super-sophisticated systems at the high end, and the smaller systems at the other where closed-circuit TV was never used before. Some people in the industry think that the smaller systems are the fastest growing segment of the market. At RCA, we believe both markets have equal potential.

At the same time, larger industries are becoming more security conscious. Today, and certainly in the years to come, we'll see closed-circuit systems as part of basic plant design, not something that is added on as an after-thought. Many companies are also upgrading their existing security systems at a brisk rate.

Another trend I see is customers' becoming more interested in management control, not just security. At the high end, we're seeing more CCTV in casinos, hotels, airports and shipping terminals--not just for security, but for smoother operational flow as well.

Industries, too, are increasing their use of closed-circuit TV for inspections and process control, especially as robotics plays a more important role in the manufacturing process. It seems that just about every day brings a new application.

In the small-system end of the market, residential use of closed-circuit TV systems will grow. In high-rise condominiums and luxury apartments, cameras and monitors help guard entrances and hallways, swimming pools, parking garages and other areas vulnerable to unauthorized access and potential danger.

Size, or more precisely the lack of it, is probably the most noteworthy trend in today's closed-circuit cameras. The solid-state, or chip, camera is leading the way in the industry's downsizing movement. In addition to smaller size, this camera offers higher reliability. This, in turn, will lower maintenance costs, since solid-state cameras will eliminate the need for periodic tube replacement. Though their initial costs are still quite high--from five to 10 times the cost of a vidicon camera--the greater reliability of all-solid-state cameras will help to offset much of the higher price. And as sales volume grows the cost will come down. But don't forget today's improved tube cameras. New circuit developments are enabling manufacturers to produce smaller units than in the past, and the vidicon camera will continue to be the mainstay of the low-cost market for a number of years.

While I'm on the subject of solid-state cameras, let me add a few more thoughts on their limitations. For one, they may lack features that are important when integrating the camera into a system. For example, some do not have provisions for sync locking--often required in Large, complex systems. Frequently, new solid-state cameras cannot be back-focused and, thus, cannot accommodate the wide variety of lenses that may be needed to handle varying situations. Nor are they available with the range of power sources necessary for easy installation required in the field. Another limiting factor in the use of solid-state cameras is the need for auto-iris lenses to handle the varying light conditions encountered in most surveillance systems.

So, as you can see, there are limitations with the new chip cameras that have to be accepted now and oversome in the future if they are to play a major role in the CCTV industry. These current limitations will be resolved, but cameras will probably have to grow in size to incorporate features that many applications demand. Change-Coupled Devices

Now--being more specific--RCA has just introduced a new CCD camera that has sensitivity similar to other low-light cameras such as Newvicons and Ultricons. It's relatively expensive because of the technology that's necessary to achieve the picture quality and sensitivity it offers. When we get to the point where our CCD unit costs no more than about one and a half times that of an equivalent low-light tube camera, I think the market will really open up.

No discussion of the future of closed-circuit TV would be complete without including fiber optics. In the past, coaxial cables limited how far a video signal could be transmitted--usually a few thousand feet. These cables also caused problems when they were installed in "dirty" electrical environments, because they weren't able to keep out certain types of electrical interference.

But fiber optics is changing all this. For one thing, it eliminates RF in electromagnetic radiation types of interference. It also does away with ground loops that cause electrical hum and other interference that prevent quality pictures. Since fiber-optic cable has no metal conduction between the transmitting end--the camera--and the receiving end--the monitor--ground loops are eliminated.

Just one of many applications that will make good use of fiber-optic transmission is in metropolitan subway systems. Here closed-circuit TV is widely used for operational purposes as well as for security. But since the CCTV has to function in an extremely hostile electrical environment, picture quality has often been less than satisfactory. But with fiber-optic transmission, the quality is dramatically improved. Industrial applications and military operations are also areas where fiber-optic transmission systems will no doubt be put to good use.

Another important advantage of fiber optics is the high degree of security it offers over that of metallic cables. It's much more difficult to gain access to the information being transmitted. This will be a major selling point for government applications and a variety of others where secrecy is important.

Today fiber optics is still more expensive. But, just as solid-state cameras will carry smaller price tags in the years to come, so will fiber-optic transmission systems. In fact, when both of these important innovations become cost competitive, the CCTV industry will have taken a major forward step. Remotes via Dial-Up

Another wave of the future is the ability to use CCTV remotely through the use of common dial-up telephone lines instead of coaxial cable or microwave. RCA's new digital telephone transmission system for transmitting video signals over telephone lines, commonly referred to as PLTV, incorporates technology that's based on the ability to store a picture in memory and then transmit that picture on a slower time scale. Called VidScan, the product is a transceiver used at both ends of the CCTV system. It will transmit and receive video pictures on an acceptable time scale; by that I mean fast enough to be useful in a security environment. It will transmit a "snapshort" picture in less than five seconds. This is a minimum-resolution picture that is adequate in identifying significant information. A high-resolution picture can be obtained at the receiving end in less than 15 seconds. All of this can be done across the entire country or just next door. I should also add that it can be switched to as many as eight different cameras at the remote site by the monitoring center.

We see the system being used at central security stations, tied in with an alarm. The user will be able to determine if the alarm is valid, and what specific reaction is appropriate. While phone-line transmission of video pictures is not new--it dates back to the use of this TV technology by AT&T and Bell Labs in the early 1960s in their Picturephone--we believe VidScan is the first unit to make this technology practical for surveillance applications. We designed it with surveillance as the main application, with features to enhance its usefulness in this market. We expect it to find use in videoconferencing, transmission of medical information, signature verification and many other applications.

Microprocessor controls are yet another important aspect of the CCTV industry. In large installations these control systems are replacing sequential switchers and reducing the number of these switchers that were often required in the past. The microprocessor control is a single basic control system by which the operator can vary the camera view according to need. Camera functions such as pan and tilt and zoom can be controlled from one location. For automatic operation, the system can be pre-programmed to give great flexibility, not only in selecting the order of sequence and the duration of camera views, but also to allow automatic selection of a larger number of pre-determined scenes from a single camera. Micrprocessor controls can now bring added sophistication to smaller CCTV systems. It is now both feasible and economically practical to use some of the newer, smaller microprocessor systems for small CCTV installations, with as few as 10 cameras and one or two monitors. These microprocessor systems also provide control for auxiliary devices.

Today, there is a growing excitement surrounding "smart" CCTV. This adjective does not apply to only the memory capability of microprocessor control units and digital motion detectors. In the future, smart CCTV systems will be able to recognize objects and individuals as well.

Today's digital motion detectors are capable of distinguishing between the shapes and sizes of objects and knowing when an object does not belong in the camera scene. This capability eliminates the need for constant human monitoring and greatly enhances the effectiveness of the security and alarm system.

As the advantages of combining a CCTV surveillance system with an intrusion-detection system become more and more apparent, I believe we will see a dramatic increase in this market segment.

This is how we see the future of our industry.
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Author:Houck, V.
Publication:Communications News
Date:Nov 1, 1984
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