20 years with IP-camera, an early adopter tells his story
Over 20 years on from the introduction of the AXIS NetEye 200, we speak with Finn Humborstad – one of the first adopters of the original IP-camera and Axis Partner of almost 20 years. Finn works with Triangel Consulting as a Senior IT Consultant.
Finn, can you tell us about your first installation of an IP-camera?
With my background as a hobby photographer, programmer and system developer, sending images over the internet has always been an obsession of mine. When I first discovered the AXIS NetEye 200 Network Camera in 1996 (the world’s first IP-camera), I was naturally thrilled. As early adopters of all technology, we had already started to develop dynamic websites with weather data*, featuring regularly updated photos – a novelty that also helped to increase web traffic. I bought my first AXIS NetEye 200 Network Camera in the summer of 1996, I designed and built an entire mobile solution with an IP-camera, a modem, a wind generator and solar cells, installing the solution at the Atlantic Road in Norway. The project provided me with lessons and skills I shall never forget.
Compared to a modern IP-camera installation, what was the first camera installation like?
When we set up the first AXIS NetEye 200 there was very little in the way of IP expertise on the web. This was in a time before Google – the majority of our support came from one of the developers at Axis, who helped us move the process along.
The image resolution and functionality was also limited. There was no auto-iris and no remote zoom / focus. Even with these limitations, the camera was still far ahead of other manufacturers. Once we got the camera to work, it was, and in fact still is, very stable in operation.
Today, there are cameras with far better image quality and features than the NetEye 200, making use of modern applications and technologies. The modern camera housing, which is designed for outdoor use, for example, contributes to less assembly work before installation. In my view, this is a key advantage outside of image quality and stability. The biggest challenge we face today is staying abreast of the ever-increasing number of camera models and technology variants. The positive aspect is that with a growing number of applications, we can deliver more value for the customer than ever before.
Do you have any favourite products / solutions, either old or new?
In terms of video analytics, we have developed a solution with license plate recognition for access control and billing according to destination. We also have a solution for identifying vehicles with dangerous goods (ADR). When showcasing the technology, it is not always possible to describe the security solutions in full detail. We have found providing access to live streams of the technology as an efficient way of demonstrating our capabilities: www.triangel.no/live
One of my favourite applications for Axis’s IP-based technology is its potential in television production. We have collaborated with Norwegian news service NRK for almost two years, where we have aired live broadcasts from Mountain ‘MANNEN’ whenever a major rockslide is expected. It’s a perfect example of efficient production made possible by the IP camera.
Live with Axis camera against NRK’s own content management system:
Rockfall at night with Axis thermal cameras:
As another example of where we have delivered Axis solutions, we have also worked with CamStreamer from NetRex – An Axis Application Development Partner. Not only are they highly skilled, they are pleasant and easy to work with. www.zooom.no
You’ve installed IP-cameras for many years now. Could you share any particularly fun projects that you remember?
After the first three cameras were delivered I was contacted by Ragnar Thorseth**, a well-known adventurer with many expeditions under his belt. Ragnar and his wife Kari were building a website, www.haholmen.no, as a conference centre. Ragnar wanted hourly updates on the weather, with pictures directly streamed to guests. A fun feature, guests could, and in fact still can today, take a selfie on the dock. With the simple press of a button, a lamp was lit, an image was taken and then sent to the website. Twenty years later, the solution is still in use, but of course using a far more advanced Axis camera.
What came next would prove to be one of our greatest challenges. Ragnar was planning to sail the Viking ship ‘Kvitserk’, a replica of the ‘Saga Siglar’, to the Shetland Islands at the turn of the millennium with an Axis camera on board. At the push of a button from the ship’s wheelhouse, Ragnar wanted to send pictures from the camera via satellite directly to a web page, www.haholmen.no.
Transferring satellite communications and FTP (2.500bps) from the camera to a land-based server was a significant challenge, especially without losing the connection. As no-one had ever tried this before, it was a totally unique installation that we can proudly say worked seamlessly for the entire crossing. Needless to say, Ragnar has taken his place as one of our most demanding customers to date, but has also been one of the most exciting to work with.
Finally, do you have any insights on future surveillance camera trends you may like to share?
Video analytics is an area we have been focusing on since 2006 when we started working with Opax (a 3D terrain model) for high-end security. In order to secure critical infrastructure, we could detect people with thermal cameras at any time of day and night.
I believe video analytics will continue to be an important tool across many sectors and can provide significant added value to Axis cameras. In the healthcare industry, for example, this can range from the security of patients and staff to diagnosis support. As analytic tools become smarter and more secure in terms of detection capabilities and easier to implement, exciting new opportunities will become available.