Video surveillance is the hot new thing. Tech market think tank ABI Research has just come out with a new study predicting that the global video surveillance market will "expand from revenue of about $13.5 billion in 2006 to a remarkable $46 billion in 2013." In a press release only Philip K. Dick could love, ABI gushes excitedly about all the fun new uses of the vidcams and databases you could be manufacturing, buying, and selling to the surveillance-craving masses.

The release reads, in part:

"Security" is the word on everyone's lips these days, but there is more to this dramatic market growth than that. Video surveillance finds uses in a variety of vertical markets such as retail, education, banking, transportation and corporate business. And it's not always about security: new facial recognition software can analyze shoppers' behavior within stores, for example, tracking eyeball movements as shoppers view product displays.

European video surveillance markets are more mature than those in North America (some say the UK, with its 4.1 million surveillance cameras, is the most monitored society on earth), but massive deployments are also now taking place in North America and, in connection with the upcoming Olympics, in China . . .

But while digital technology offers advantages - higher resolution, easier searching and retrieval, and more efficient storage - many of the traditional security resellers of analog equipment are not yet comfortable with digital, and a massive retraining effort is going to be required.

"This is a modern version of the California gold rush," [ABI vice president Scott] Schatt concludes, "except that people are bringing cameras instead of pickaxes and shovels."


I just love the idea of a surveillance gold rush. Plus, the blithe way ABI points out that surveillance goes beyond mere security into "new facial recognition software [that] can analyze shoppers' behavior within stores" is pure gold. If you think this is rank speculation on ABI's part, though, you'd be wrong. Companies like VideoMining are already providing this very type of surveillance for stores, tracking shopper behavior and trying to figure out patterns.

Ah, the future looks so bright. I'd better make sure I'm filming everything that happens in it with hidden cameras. Image via NYC Indymedia.

Video Surveillance: Explosive Market [ABI Research]