“Our dewarping is still unique”: Simon Reed of panoramic camera pioneer Oncam

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Adam Bannister is a contributor to IFSEC Global, having been in the role of Editor from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam also had stints as a journalist at cybersecurity publication, The Daily Swig, and as Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
October 12, 2018


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On day one of IFSEC 2018 we caught up with Oncam’s Simon Reed, VP of sales for EMEA and Asia, to find out about its 180- and 360-degree cameras and patented dewarping technology.

He also discussed the company’s focus for the rest of the year and beyond and how its surveillance cameras’ use-specific housing makes them so versatile.

IFSEC Global: So I gather you’ve had some traction at IFSEC already and it’s only midday on the first day?

Simon Reed: We have. We’ve had a couple of police forces visit us – one, a UK police force that’s new to us, and a police force from Sweden. Because we’re working with Milestone, we can bring their team in during these discussions and look at integrations that are truly beneficial to the end user for increased situational awareness for their security teams.

I’ve only been on the stand for an hour myself, but in that time we’ve had quite a multinational range of visitors.

IG: What are the key messages for Oncam this year?

SR: We’re mainly presenting the 180-degree camera, which we brought out early this year. We launched the indoor camera in February and, in April, the outdoor model.

We’re focusing on covering the different verticals that our technology complements well, including the hospitality and retail markets, which have been strong for the 180-degree camera offering.

“The 180 has integration and dewarping on the camera, whereas our 360-degree cameras have dewarping on the client side”

We’re also focusing on moving it into external projects, such as with the police force, and demonstrating that the 180-degree product line is a fully integrated surveillance camera.

The 180 is unique in that the integration and dewarping is on the camera, whereas our 360-degree cameras have dewarping on the client side.

IG: How beneficial is the Milestone collaboration given they’ve been named the number one VMS provider in the market 10 years on the trot?

SR: We work globally with about 50 partners and we’ve done a lot of large projects around the globe with Milestone. I believe they’re our closest integration partner because of their open platform, which complements our open-platform solution, perfectly.

Another synergistic focus is the strength that both of our companies have in similar vertical markets, which gives us a lot more scope and strengthens the collaboration.

Oncam works with a number of VMS partners across the industry, as our open-platform camera functionality lends itself well to working seamlessly with the top VMS providers.

Evolution 180 indoor video surveillance camera

Evolution 180 indoor

IG: How far internationally have you expanded?

SR: We’re a UK company, but we have offices in Boston, Singapore, Hong Kong and Delhi. We’re looking at expanding, including building a team in APAC, and we’ve just hired someone in Mumbai and are looking for two more people in Europe.

We have a big operation in Turkey, with a sales office in Istanbul and a tech office in Ankara. Our research and development side of the business is done jointly between Boston, the UK and Turkey.

IG: What are your USPs in a market with so many manufacturers – even after a fair bit of consolidation in recent years?

SR: Focusing on the 360-degree camera and now the 180, it’s the quality.

We can work on a retail project with three or four cameras and video analytics, all the way through to an oil and gas project or working with the MoD [Ministry of Defence]. Although the range is fairly small, it’s how we put it out to the market [that counts].

The expansion of the 180 confirms this. Our products are known for their excellent quality. If you look at other camera brands out there, our dewarping is still unique and we work very closely with our VMS partners to offer that uniqueness to end-user customers.

It’s also about the user experience, because we’re fully focused on panoramic technology and maximising the effectiveness of these cameras; we’re not doing a whole host of other cameras.

“What sets us apart is working closely with end users and integrators – making sure the right camera is used for the right location, for the right people”

We’ve been pioneers of the technology for more than a decade, so we have a lot of heritage. We’ve also been able to recruit some really amazing talent from a number of large companies because while we may be small, we are very focused, and we really know the markets that we’re targeting.

What sets us apart is the close work we do with both end users and integrators – making sure the right camera is used for the right location, for the right people. We’re not a box-shifting company. Once we work with a partner, we’re working with them closely. And we’re expanding the team to be able to do that in more areas.

IG: It’s interesting that your dewarping technology is patented. In what ways is it unique exactly?

SR: The user experience. When you’re looking at a 360-degree image, it’s the way you can dewarp the image around. And because of the quality, you’re not missing any details

Whether the image is on a handheld device, a tablet or a video wall, you can see it. We strive to deliver that same experience with our VMS partners. It’s unique. The dewarping technology from other companies isn’t as smooth or as easy to navigate as ours.

IG: In terms of R&D, is the focus exclusively on improving what you already excel in or diversifying into other areas too?

SR: Some of our goals include increasing frame rate, reducing bandwidth, developing more cameras, further developing the software and making the user experience easier and more intuitive.

We’re becoming more vertically driven. For example, we have a stainless steel version, which is tough, can be pressure-washed and is good for industrial kitchens or manufacturing facilities. We also have an explosion-proof camera that was designed specifically for the oil and gas market. It’s the same camera on the inside, but the housing is very specific to the use case.

So as new challenges come up, like new standards for oil and gas, or for food – because in the UK food management requires 24/7 monitoring – our R&D team is looking at the next thing coming out. You can still do the omnidirectional, the 360, the 180, but with the addition of customised housing as well.

IG: Is there anything else you want to add?

SR: I took over the role on 1 March and we’ve been working with regional directors to see where our strengths are and identifying key verticals in each region. With the support of the UK office and support across the United States, we’re able to develop our business more in key regions.

So in India, that’s a lot of work with our MoD and oil and gas, and Asia-Pacific is coming up with marine projects and a pharma project. In Turkey we’ve just completed a big safe city project in Ankara.

This year and next year, we’re really focusing on hitting our key verticals and bringing our rest-of-the-world team under one banner. We’re making sure we’re sharing information so that what we’re doing in Turkey one day we can do in India the next and in Sydney the month after.

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