In video surveillance systems, the weakest link is the often bored, distracted human who has to spend hours staring at a bank of video monitors, waiting for something suspicious to happen. Several companies say they have found a solution: Surveillance systems smart enough to recognize threats, even when their human operators do not.
“It essentially replaces the need for people to watch video,” said Scott Schnell, chief executive of VideoIQ Inc., a Bedford, US, firm that was spun off earlier this year from General Electric Co. VideoIQ is one of several companies vying for dominance of the market for “video analytics” systems, which can help defeat a variety of security threats, from shoplifters to suicide bombers.
Systems from VideoIQ and Intuvision Inc. of Woburn can automatically spot an intruder climbing a fence or a subway passenger leaving a suspicious parcel on the platform. IntelliVid Inc. of Cambridge makes systems for retailers that can detect a possible shoplifter and electronically track his movement through the store, to see if he swipes anything else. Computers that can recognize suspicious activities can serve as valuable backups to the human eyeball. The smart video systems are programmed to recognize certain shapes, like cars, people, or luggage. ©2007/THE NEW YORK TIMES