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The mobile cloud promises a revolution in business processes across several verticals. A pair of these that are receiving considerable attention currently are: Retailing and Restaurants.
In both cases there are multiple issues in the management of enterprises that deal with the public at specific premises. The challenge is how to get necessary information in usable form from in-store to owners/managers on an ongoing basis. This requires: 1) media for capturing in-store activity on a realtime basis; 2) a network for transporting the info for processing; 3) a cloud with software to handle the processing; 4) the ability to get the info to the owners/managers on suitable mobile devices.
Weaving these four elements into a working service offering is a challenge facing a number of emerging companies. Mobilecloudera.com has looked at providers with various media for information capture, including beacons, cameras, even robotic devices.
We recently spoke with Martin Renkis, CEO of Smartvue, who describes the company’s area of expertise as Visual Business Intelligence. The company has been working in the area of capture, delivery and management of images since 1997. While they do offer hardware – cameras and servers – their focus is on cloud-based service offerings.
A good deal of their work, which has led to them holding 27 patents, was inspired by considerations of providing security to various premises, with high QOS (quality of service). The focus has broadened out to other business needs and requirements as well.
While the company deals with several verticals, Renkis states that the “low hanging fruit” is multi-location restaurant and retail companies. They aim for entities with 100 locations or more, which need centrally managed security.
Renkis describes a value chain for surveillance that includes: a) the input devices, which he says can extend beyond cameras and beacons to even wearables; b) storage, which may be in a cloud or in some cases on a local server for customers who don’t have ability to use cloud storage, c) management of the live video experience, which includes providing for transmission quality and security; d) intelligence, which includes interpretative software; e) action and f) end results.
“The Action and Results are up to the customer,” he states, “everything else we take part in.” He proclaims the company’s strategy and goal as becoming “the world’s largest surveillance network.”
In achieving this, he strongly emphasizes the importance of the quality and security of the network, stating that “networking is as important as video.” He points out that his staff is largely composed of engineers who are skilled in networking. The Smartvue cloud determines, among many key parameters, the user’s connection speed, the quality of connection and also knows the device’s configuration and nature and OS that is being used. It can make adjustments to optimize the transmission to produce a satisfactory quality video experience to the remote recipient.
Renkis describes this ability to optimize the delivery as involving “a lot of magic” on the part of Smartvue. This know-how has been developed starting in 1997, when, as he puts it, they were working with “crappy” 14.4kbps dial-up modem networks, to today’s xDSL, RAN and optical, heterogeneous transport systems.
The company divides its customers into two broad categories. There are strategic partners, some of whom such as Hikvision, the major producer of cameras, are identified and others of whom use the Smartvue cloud on an OEM basis. The second category is enterprises. In addition to restaurant and retail chains they also deal with shipping companies, some multi-site building groups and schools.
Renkis observes that enterprises in general have really embraced the cloud in the past year. He describes the security industry as being used to “buying gadgets” such as cameras or DVRs. His company, however, is interested in selling a service, which he describes as “Hardware as a Service,” HaaS. It is a virtual video business intelligence platform with a rich set of APIs.
Their service includes a setup fee for installing software and setting up users and then a monthly fee. Their network is continuously operating and they offer tech support and storage. He reports that their resellers like the HaaS model.
They currently use Microsoft’s Azure cloud for hosting. Microsoft has data centers in 18 countries and Smartvue is very interested in international expansion. However, they are mindful of regulatory complications this introduces, since, in Europe for example, security breaches can cause the security provider to have to pay fees to the government.
The company offers an array of alerts to customers, such as: camera up or down; server up or down; who’s logged in; any settings changed; motion detection, for example, detecting entering after work hours. He points to a customer with 600 retail stores, where alerts can be directed to the specific manager responsible for any group of stores.
The company wrote the software for the alerts. They also have moved into providing a certain amount of analytics. Renkis mentions an app for a restaurant chain that can track the amount of drinks being poured from a whiskey bottle, and can provide alerts if a suspicious transaction occurs – software which Smartvue wrote.
Smartvue continues its high rate of innovation. Renkis mentions Commandvue, a new enterprise management platform that provides the customer with a dashboard and the ability to change firmware. Another innovation is its Camera to Cloud that uses a new line of cameras that can transmit to the cloud without an intermediate server.
He is also enthused about its recently announced application, Contribute, which enables connecting mobile devices, e.g., smartphones, tablets, smart glasses, to the video surveillance cloud network. This evolutionary step, which Contribute may represent, is the fact that Smartvue’s video business intelligence may be the forerunner of a hybrid fixed and mobile cloud of video sensors.
Visit their website: www.smartvue.com
Podcast Narration by Gene Guerrero
Podcast Music “On the Ground” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0