22 AUGUST 2001
An eye on your business
ANYONE USING A CLOSED CIRCUIT TELEVISION SYSTEM TO KEEP AN EYE ON THEIR BUSINESS WOULD BE ALL TOO FAMILIAR WITH THE PROBLEMS OF PURCHASING AND MAINTAINING VCRS, MULTIPLEXERS AND MONITORS. HOWEVER, ALL THAT IS ABOUT TO BECOME A THING OF THE PAST WITH THE LAUNCHING OF NEXUS EUROPE LTD AT THE UPCOMING IT&T FAIR. DAVID LINDSAY SPEAKS TO SALES DIRECTOR PAUL TIHN ABOUT THE COMPANY'S REVOLUTIONARY SURVEILLANCE PRODUCT.
Nexus was established in January of this year with the initial objective of offering the Maltese consumer an interesting alternative to the run of the mill CCTV systems and already engaging a number of big players in Maltese business as clients.
Nexus' trademark product, Nexus Vista, is a digital surveillance system consisting of anywhere between one and 16 video cameras installable in much the same way as any other type of cameras.
However, where Nexus' system differs is that video imagery captured by the cameras and computer can be viewed both in the traditional manner and in real time over the Internet - effectively allowing a business owner to overview activities within his business from any Internet-enabled computer anywhere in the world.
Mt Tihm explains, "The beauty of the system is that you can use it from afar. For example, if you are the owner of a restaurant and you want to see what's happening at a particular moment in time, all you have to do is log on to the Internet and access an IP address using a password both of which we provide.
"Using a digital interface, which captures video at the speed of one frame per second, gives the user many advantages over normal CCTV. For example, a computer stores all the images onto a user's hard disk and there is also an archive system so you can backtrack to last week or last month by just punching in a date and time.
"The Nexus system is far less costly than a CCTV system, and comes without the hassles of changing video tapes all the time. You can have settings that would activate the system for either a.m. or p.m. while you can also set it on motion detection in order to save space on the computer - it doesn't make sense to record an empty room for a whole 24 hours, the cameras only record when there is motion taking place within their focus.
"In terms of security, no system can actual save the day, but what it can do is catch a person responsible for any wrongdoing."
Mr Tihm explains that there is a similar system but it does not offer the Internet features that Nexus does working instead through a dial up connection to a particular server. He explains, "Our system, on the other hand, allows one to log on to the Internet to view operations. One unit to perform this single task costs utilising other systems even excluding the price of cameras and other peripherals works out to the same price of one of our complete systems."
Apart from the obvious surplus of business opportunities provided by the private sector, Mr Tihm is also looking at targeting other potential markets such as contracts with local councils, public gardens, supermarkets and yacht marinas.
Such a system could also prevent those late night phone calls from the police or security agencies, as Mr Tihm comments, "Anyone operating a business is familiar with receiving calls in the middle of the night informing you that your alarm is going off. Then you, as the key holder, have to get out of bed, get your clothes on and go all the way down to see what the problem is. With this facility, and enough cameras, you could scour the entire building to see if there is anyone inside."
Surprisingly, the hardware requirements to implement the system are not out of the ordinary. Mr Tihm comments, "For optimum performance of the system, we recommend the specifications of most computers being sold these days - those with 30 gigabytes of storage space and 128 RAM. However, if an upgrade is required, we are glad to arrange that for our clients as well.
"The 30 gigabytes that we recommend serve the system for nine days of 24 hour filming, not including the motion detector feature. Of course, archives can also always be backed up.
"We also recommend that our clients subscribe to either cable Internet or ADSL, in order to have fast access speeds, but we have found that the remote viewing Internet function nevertheless works, albeit somewhat slower, with normal Internet connections.
"However, you don't necessarily need the Internet, as the system can be used merely with a single computer in an office, or it can also be networked."
Asked whether Nexus has targeted the nightclub industry yet, he explains that, while most nightclubs have a CCTV system in place, although without the remote viewing offered by Nexus, he believes there is a large market to integrate the facility into a bar or nightclub's web site. In terms of image quality, Nexus' system is far superior to ordinary web cams.
While a large potential market is out there, Mr Tihm explains that exporting their product and services is a key factor in the future. The software used by Nexus was designed specifically for the company and it carries a trademark, but Mr Tihm does not exclude carrying out some further development of their own a bit further down the road.
He adds, "Our goal over the next five years is to progress and become a key player in the surveillance systems market. In fact, our research and development section is currently focussing on integrating sound into the system."
Being computer related, there is also the ability of being able to manage the images (one image for every frame of video) as though they are normal computer files.
According to Mr Tihm, "For example, you can find a particular image, put it on a disk and take it to the police or otherwise, print it. This beats taking the video out and bringing it to an imaging company to get a print out. All this can be done with the click of a button.
"We have our own Nexus cameras, which are manufactured by Philips and the prices of the system range roughly between Lm500 and Lm2,000, while CCTV systems are considerably more expensive, while, all one needs is a PC - Internet or not - to implement the system, as opposed to the numerous peripherals integrated into other systems.
Trade enquiries can be directed to Paul Tihn on 228822.