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Powering the changing face of video walls

Video Wall Zone

Video walls are an essential part of the modern security environment. Matthew Tibbitt Product Manager at Datapath explains how the manufacturer’s latest additions are powering video walls to help operators monitor their environment.

Where does Datapath fit into the security surveillance space?

Datapath systems and technology have been deployed into 1000s of control rooms and security suites across the world. The ability to deliver content to large scale video walls is critical to functional teams that need to combine information to see the bigger picture and respond to it. Datapath scalable video wall controllers have the ability to capture and display video from local computer sources, set top boxes, and websites across walls of almost any size, and they are all designed to work in 24/7 situations. Within Security Suites our ActiveSQX cards, as part of a system, allow 100s of IP cameras to be simultaneously decoded and shown on the video wall all at full resolution and frame rate. Security teams can then display those cameras that are either necessary for ongoing monitoring or crucial due to an ongoing incident.

Is hardware just as important to you as software?

Absolutely, hardware and software working in combination allows each element to work to its full potential. We have just launched our next-gen range of processors that are cooler and quieter than ever, with Datapath’s legendary reliability as standard, of course. Our software solutions offer end users the chance to drive these system in such a way that ensures the correct scenes are displayed on the video wall when they are needed using a very simple interface.

What sort of software developments have you made with the Milestone X Protect platform?

What we’ve done is to extend the capabilities of our WallControl 10 software and add them directly into Milestone’s XProtect user interface. The motivation behind this was to drastically reduce the complexity for the end user. In the security market, the operator’s job is to not only monitor their environments but to then manage any situation as an event develops. This may be as simple as confirming a colleague’s identity and granting access to a location or it could involve a complex deployment of resources from multiple locations and agencies. In either case the operator needs to be able to perform their job quickly and efficiently. By creating the WallControl 10 plug-in for XProtect we have given the operators the opportunity to interface with the video wall from within the very application that they use most throughout their working day.

The first thing we did is to come up with the unique concept of “Zones”. As the plug-in is installed. The administrator is asked to define a number of zones on the video wall. These zones represent a space on the video wall into which an operator can deploy content from XProtect. A zone may be a single screen, multiple screens or even the whole wall.

Within XProtect the WallControl 10 plug-in functions within the “Live” tab. The operator can see which video walls they can connect to, along with the zones that are available for that wall. Along the top of the camera views are a number of buttons that allow the operator to take what they’re seeing on their work station and directly place those feeds into their selected zone or zones. There are a number of options that are available to the operator once they’ve selected their zone. The first option is to “Share” to the video wall. By selecting “Share” all the cameras within the current XProtect view will be placed into the zone on the video wall. If the view contains a carousel then the video wall will replicate what is on screen and change content as the cameras cycle through. Once the operator has shared they can then move onto to a different view. With multiple zones set up, teams of operators can each have their own section of video wall to use as they require.

Should something happen that needs the operator’s complete attention they simply need to select “Track”. By tracking what they are doing the operator can automatically send cameras to the video wall zone as they cycle through the views within XProtect and concentrate on the work that needs doing.

Video that is captured on our Wall Controller can be displayed on the video wall alongside the IP cameras by deploying WallControl 10 layout files. Layout files can contain anything that is available to the controller. Ideally layout files would be created with the XProtect zones in mind meaning IP feeds and local captures can be deployed side by side increasing the amount of information available on the video wall.

The plug-in also works alongside the Milestone event server. The event server can be programmed to react to certain events, such as an alarm or motion detection. The plug-in will allow the administrator to automatically send cameras to a particular zone or zones on the video wall should an event be triggered.

WallControl 10 plugin

Finally, the WallControl 10 plug-in works with Milestone’s own User Rights Management component. Each user is assigned a role within a hierarchy. Users lower in the hierarchy can deploy video into a zone only as long as a higher priority user is not using it. Once the zone has been cleared any user is able to use the free space.

All in all, by combining WallControl 10 with XProtect, we’ve managed to make life much easier for both Milestone users and administrators. XProtect Users do not need to be trained on a new and unfamiliar application, and they are able to do their work AND interact with the video wall from a single application.

Is there anything else that Datapath is working on?

We develop products in line with market demand. Technology moves quickly and, in 2018 alone, we are currently averaging one new product per month. These will range from faster in/out capture cards for a variety of vertical markets, to new video processors both small and large. Over the past few months we have launched the iolite 12i, a small form factor video wall processer that has 12 inbuilt HD graphics outputs and 3 lots 4K UHD outputs. Users can either use all 12 HD outputs or mix and match HD and 4K outputs to suit their requirements. The iolite also comes with 2 slots for any of our Vision capture or ActiveSQX IP decoding cards which could give users the ability to capture either 8 HDMI inputs, or lots of IP cameras.

The Hx4 has also been launched this year as a companion to the award winning Fx4. The Hx4 combines a single 4K input with 4 outputs. Primarily used in the signage market, this popular product gives users the change to create unusual and interesting 4 screen arrangements and then play content across all of the screens.

Where do you see the company going in the future?

We are currently enjoying some fantastic growth in new territories. In the past year, we’ve invested heavily in our Far East, South America and US operations and the response has been very encouraging with great sales returns. Although we have been a vital part of the security AV mix for many years, we are now becoming more ‘public’ by the month, with customers acknowledging Datapath as a stand-out manufacturer in our field.

Matthew Tibbit

Matthew Tibbitt

Datapath Product Manager