Smile, you’re on camera

Several months ago, our leadership team traveled to Las Vegas to attend ISCWest, one of the largest security industry conferences in North America. The show offered an amazing opportunity to learn about emerging technologies, integrated solutions, security-related tools and security and monitoring services of every flavor imaginable.

Video is everywhere

One thing that struck us at the show was the abundance of video. There seemed to be almost no end to the number of vendors offering video capture, storage, analysis or even more sophisticated applications going beyond security into areas such as retail and insurance. Among almost 1,000 exhibitors, video related solutions displayed an overwhelming presence. No matter where we walked on the exhibit floor and what direction we were looking, there was always a camera in our sight, and usually at least one was pointed right at us!

We saw video cameras as small as pinhead sized devices that are obviously used for spying (most shocking was one secretly embedded in a fake water bottle) and some as large as military grade ones that carry long distance lenses, alarming enough to make Robocop run for cover.

There was also no shortage of other devices including connected door locks and doorbells from vendors such as August, Ring and Skybell. Still, video in all forms and sizes dominated the exhibit floors. No surprise then that after examining the exhibitor directory we did the math and concluded that a full 55% of the exhibitors classified themselves under the “video surveillance” or “video management software” categories.

There’s money in it

Some of the conversations with security monitoring companies and manufacturers outlined industry pressure to provide customers ongoing value, in order to retain business and provide margin rich recurring monthly revenue (RMR).

This is clearly causing a growing number of companies, both traditional and new entrants, to explore cloud based storage services for household video cameras. Essentially, a number of companies offer (or will be offering) the ability for their customers to store video files online so they can be examined later. Such would be quite useful to both law enforcement and insurance in the case of a burglary like the one recently caught on a Nest camera in Dallas a few weeks ago.

In that vein, many companies were taking a page from the book on monetizing cloud services by building on a freemium model, for example by including free storage of basic video content for several hours but charging a premium of say $9.99 per month for higher quality video that can be kept for a longer period.

Considering the already steep costs of security monitoring, to us this seemed to be a relatively expensive add-on, especially when factoring in the initial outlay of something in the neighborhood of several hundred dollars for a couple of cameras, plus installation costs for the alarm company’s technician, not to mention the fact that all too often the devices being installed are proprietary and only work with the particular home security system provided.

Food for thought

Clearly video is going to be growing in importance in the connected home security space. The question is if there are any other considerations or potential downsides that may cause us to stop smiling when we face a camera.

Note: This story was originally published on the Plasmatic Technologies company blog in May 2017