The promise of cost-effective solutions that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) are beginning to materialize in the video surveillance realm. One indication of this development arrives in the form of Alarm.com's new video analytics program for the residential and small- and medium-sized business (SMB) markets.
"Video has always been an area where the promise of it and people's expectations had not been fully met by what reasonably priced video cameras were capable of developing," Alarm.com Chief Product Officer Dan Kerzner told SSI. "We had a notion if we continued to invest in video and in artificial intelligence, and ramped up the scale of R&D in this area, that we can take it to the next level. But do it in a way that would fit into the go-to-market strategies of our service providers and bring modern, best-in-class AI solutions to a much broader set of people."
With ObjectVideo personnel assimilated with Alarm.com counterparts, the new team set out to develop a video analytics engine capable of object classification — Is it an animal? Is it a vehicle? Is it a person? — as well as object tracking. The latter feature is said to determine an object's direction of movement, along with measuring the duration of activity.
All this allows users to manage notifications by assigning virtual zones and multidirectional trip lines in order to observe when someone or something has passed through a certain area or region of interest. (The company's announcement today further details the new offering's feature sets.)
"We have given you quite a bit of control and insight into what is going on in the scene, but then doing all that integrated with the Alarm.com offering, and in particular, leveraging the cameras that we have in the market today so that you don't have to make a big hardware investment or change your go-to-market model," Kerzner explained.
Alarm.com offers two primary Wi-Fi cameras, both of which now leverage the company's new AI architecture and video analytics service package: the indoor ADC-V522IR and outdoor ADC-V722W. Without the operational burden of selling all new hardware, dealers can go back to existing customers with an opportunity to upsell just the enhanced service offering.
"Or put together a new package that they can use in their go-to-market activities without having to change the supply chain and what they have stocked on their trucks," Kerzner said.
Training the AI Engine
To prepare the new offering for its eventual release, the company's computer vision research team trained the AI engine using a vast library of video clips from field-deployed cameras. Extensive feedback from service provider partners and beta program participants were also vital to the developmental process.
Partnering with Alarm.com dealers allowed the research team to figure out the types of scenes that are most commonly deployed for end customers, as well as receiving feedback on where the system was working and where it wasn't.
"The tuning and your ability to really understand the use cases you are going after makes a big difference in the efficacy of the offering. Meaning, there are generic approaches to these problems but unless you understand the particular cameras you are working with and the particular use cases you are going after, you won't get nearly as good of results," Kerzner explained. "So we were able to do a lot of work on our own and then partner with our service providers and really tune the offering. That helped tremendously."
Enhancing Video Verification
Although not highlighted in the official unveiling of the video analytics program, the company's AI endeavors is expected to play an integral role in which Alarm.com enhances its visual verification offering. The big takeaway here: helping central stations and installing security contractors reduce false alarms.
"We have a video verification capability that we are working on with our service providers and have deployed. The video analytics just enhances the visual verification. You are able to give both the homeowner and the operator much faster information and more fidelity about what's going on," Kerzner said. "If you have an alarm and you see that you also have a video clip that has a person identified in it, then you are going to take that incident and look at it very differently."
The new video analytics program is available for Alarm.com dealers to begin offering their residential and SMB clients immediately. Dealers who have familiarity with the company's existing pro video offering will find the video analytics program straightforward, Kerzner said.
There is a simple set of wizards that will assist dealers with configuring the AI capabilities for the cameras. Online training and additional education is also available through the company's website.
"If you want more context and are looking for guidance on how to think about the go-to-market strategy or what the considerations might be," Kerzner said, "our entire field sales team and our training team is ramped up and ready to go."