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October - 2014 - issue > CEO Spotlight
The Next-gen high Bandwidth A Game Changer
Malay Kundu
Founder & CEO-StopLift Checkout Vision Systems
Sunday, October 5, 2014
StopLift, based in Cambridge, MA, is a provider of checkout vision software with systems deployed across four continents. The firm's video analytics software involuntarily analyzes security video to identify theft and enhance operational efficiency at manned and self-service checkouts.

From where we sit at the intersection of the POS (Point-of-Sale) and Video Security markets, the hottest trends are related to the growth of IP video, video analytics, and self-checkouts.

On the video side, the retail security world has finally reached the tipping point where new installations opt for IP video over yesterday's analog cameras. This has led to better standards for communication of video, better infrastructure of video management systems to store the video, and a realization that having all the video you could ever want at your fingertips is not actually quite enough in and of itself. Taking a page out of the Big Data playbook, the retail security end user has started to realize that extracting actionable information from all that video is far more interesting. In security, actionable information from video means not just extracting insights but identifying actual incidents of theft.

On the POS side, the big story is self-checkouts. Just as airports have gone almost completely to self-service check in, retail stores too are also moving toward self-service scanning. The only challenge being that self-service scanning is much more error prone than its airport counterpart. Herein lies the opportunity. It turns out that the same advanced video analytics capable of detecting theft is equally good at recognizing legitimate behavior. And by doing so, video analytics can significantly diminish the false alarm beeping that frustrates honest shoppers, and instead make the self-checkout experience a much more pleasant one.

The Game Changer

The two biggest changes in the industry are coming from bandwidth and cameras. Next generation high bandwidth broadband will change the game for video security. Today, while more consumer-oriented companies such as Dropcam (acquired by Google) have certainly attracted a lot of attention in the small-footprint market, the fact is that the level of quality (frame rate, resolution, bit rate) and storage required in the larger commercial footprints such as of retail chain stores is not yet practical to host in the cloud. Instead, commercial systems like ours with one foot in the cloud must still keep the other foot in the store through on-premises servers. However, this is much like Netflix before it could truly use the "net" to stream movies. The infrastructure is built, and significantly less expensive bandwidth in the not-too-distant future will enable completely cloud based Video Surveillance As A Service (VSAAS).

Similarly, high quality high resolution cameras will continue to become cheaper and cheaper as they are commoditized by their use in the ever growing number of smart phones. With this commoditization and cheaper price, they will become more and more ubiquitous. They will find their way into all parts of the retail store including being incorporate into the checkout itself, not only hanging from ceilings overlooking the checkouts as they are today. In fact, POS manufacturers are already today working with StopLift to incorporate vision-based security into self-checkouts, and with the proliferation of cameras we see this extending to all checkouts and indeed the entire store.

The Challenges

Entrepreneurs are individuals who pave their own paths. However, ironically, one of the challenges for entrepreneurs is to avoid getting swept up by the allure of all the buzzwords of the moment. The challenge is to instead find the unique, underserved, sometimes unattractive markets with large unmet needs and to then satisfy those needs in an obsessively customer centric way. I believe the entrepreneurs who have the vision and perseverance to do so truly have a chance to move the needle in a big way.(As told to Anitha TS)

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