When will surveillance industry adopt H.265?

H.264 is considered as a leader of video codecs and this was confirmed by a survey conducted by IHS which said that the codec holds a lion’s share across the Broadcasting and security industry. Nevertheless, practically speaking, it did not get to that top position that easily.

Way back in 2003, H.264 was introduced to the broadcasting world and from then on, it took nearly 5 years for the industry to adopt the codec on a broad note.

In the year 2009, manufacturers offering security equipment like IP cameras started to present their first dual CODEC supported equipment to the industry. At first, network camera manufacturers offered products with dual CODEC support enabling security practitioners to deploy MPEG4 cameras initially and then enable H.264, when their recording platform offered a solution.

Many in the industry have predicted that same pattern will emerge with H.265 also called as High Efficient Video Coding; but at a much-accelerated rate. May be the 5 year adoption window, seen in the case of H.264, might also get a strategic cut down in the adoption of High efficient video coding.

Jointly developed by the ISO/ITU and MPEG, H.265 was officially ratified in April 2013 with an additional version updated in 2015.

Though primarily developed for consumer electronic devices, the compelling advantages offered by this innovative video compression technology also make it a prime candidate for adoption in the world of physical security.

So, where are all the H.265 products or when are we going to adopt H.265?

At recent ASIS and ISC East, only a handful of camera manufactures came up with H.265 supportive cameras. But there was almost zero support from the VMS developers.

All those who exhibited the cameras at the ASIS, said that they were offering only a handful of cameras due to the fact that there was no recording means for the cameras.

Some came up with their own Video Management Systems and were offering the camera + VMS as a bundled solution.

Doesn’t that sound familiar? Yes, it’s the same way our industry approached the adoption of H.264.

The surveillance industry start from:

One area that has everyone on edge is the licensing and royalty structure proposed by two organizations representing patent pools for H.265.

The first, HEVC Advance, was formed in March 2015 and represented 500 patents. Their licensing model includes any combination of encoder/decoders, but demands a royalty on revenues generated on the content developed by said HEVC enabled device.

Companies like Google, Amazon and Netflix were against royalty and so joined hands to develop the Alliance for Open Media, which aims to provide a royalty free alternative to H.265. The royalty free approach not only helped broadcasters, but also helped security service providers offering video surveillance as a service (VSaaS).

By implementing H.265, security professionals working with limited budgets can take much benefit. As it helps in cutting down existing storage requirements by half, IP camera installers can increase resolution of their existing cameras to gain more pixels on target. They can increase frame rate of the recordings to increase situational awareness or can also deploy more cameras at the same resolution and frame rate.

All three provide higher performance across your existing investment giving the users distinct security advantages.

More pixels on target provide the option of widening the field of view while still maintaining the operational requirement of detection, recognition or identification. A wider field of view provides more coverage and possibly less cameras for a given scene.

By increasing the frame rate operators can review video recordings with more fluid motion providing greater situational awareness as well as the opportunity to “frame grab” the perfect image for possible prosecution. The third option seems inevitable.

Over time, most security operations find themselves increasing camera count as more opportunities for surveillance present themselves. With H.265, that expansion can be accomplished without overtaxing bandwidth consumption and other resources.


Therefore, with all set, let’s hope that the markets work on the obstacles with licensing and VMS compatibility and roll out H.265 solutions as soon as possible.

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