Axis Communications

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Axis Communications AB
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryVideo surveillance
Founded1984[1]
FoundersMikael Karlsson
Martin Gren
Keith Bloodworth
Headquarters,
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Ray Mauritsson, CEO
Jonas Hansson, CIO
Johan Paulsson, CTO
Fredrik Sjöstrand, CFO
ProductsNetwork cameras
Network video encoders
Network video recorders
Video management systems
Video analytics
Physical access control
RevenueSEK 8.6 billion (2017)[2]
Increase SEK 11.8 billion (2019)[3]
Number of employees
3,646[3]
ParentCanon Inc.
Websitewww.axis.com

Axis Communications AB is a Swedish manufacturer of network cameras, access control, and network audio devices for the physical security and video surveillance industries.[4][5][6]

History[edit]

Axis Communications originally started out as an IT company selling print servers.[7][8] It then applied its knowledge in networks and embedded computing to develop network cameras for the security industry.[9][10][11] Most of its products contain an embedded computer with some flash memory and run a custom version of Linux.[12] One of its major breakthroughs in technology was the development of JFFS, which extended the lifetime of the devices' flash memory.[13][14]

Origins[edit]

Axis Communications was founded in 1984 by Martin Gren, Mikael Karlsson and Keith Bloodworth in Lund, Sweden.[1][15] The company developed and sold protocol converters and printer interfaces for the connection of PC printers in IBM mainframe and mini-computer environments.[16][17][18] By the end of the 1980s, Axis Communications had opened its first U.S. sales office in Boston, Massachusetts and in the early 1990s started shifting its focus away from IBM mainframes towards networking and the TCP/IP protocol.[17][19]

Expansion[edit]

Axis 5600/5800 Print Server was the type of product that made inroads to a strong expansion of Axis business in the 1990s and early 2000s.

In 1991, Axis Communications introduced a multi-protocol print server supporting both TCP/IP and NetWare.[8][20] In 1995, the company introduced a file server independent, multi-protocol CD-ROM server, supporting TCP/IP (NFS) and Windows (SMB), for Ethernet networks, the AXIS 850.[20][21] By 1995, Axis Communications opened sales offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo, Japan.[20]

Focus on network cameras[edit]

In 1996, Axis Communications introduced the industry's first network camera, the AXIS 200.[22][7][23][24][25][26] This was followed in 1999 by the AXIS 2100 which was the first volume product using an embedded Linux.[20][27] In 2003, the company introduced the AXIS 205, the then smallest network camera.[20][28] As of 2020, Axis Communications has many product lines of network cameras to suit various environments and needs.

Standardization[edit]

In 2008, Axis Communications announced together with Bosch and Sony that the companies will cooperate in order to standardize the interface of network video products and form a new industry standards body called ONVIF (Open Network Video Interface Forum).[29][30][31][32] Axis Communications introduced its first product with ONVIF support in 2009, the AXIS P3301. Many companies have adapted ONVIF as it became an industry standard and most modern IP Cameras natively support it.[33]

Today[edit]

Axis Communications operates offices in more than 50 countries and employs over 3,800 people.[34] According to a 2013 market research report by industry analyst house IHS Research, Axis Communications is the global market leader in the network camera and video encoder markets.[35][36][37] Installations include the City of Houston,[38] Sydney Airport,[39] Moscow Metro,[40] The White House and Madrid Buses.[41] In 2019, Axis Communications published a sustainability report stating that 80 percent of its network cameras and video encoders are PVC-free.[3]

On February 10, 2015, Japanese multinational corporation Canon Inc., which specializes in the manufacture of imaging and optical products announced a cash bid of 23.6  billion Swedish kronor (US$2.83 billion) to acquire Axis Communications.[42][43] While Canon is the majority shareholder, Axis is run independently. Canon's network cameras are now sold and supported by Axis Communications in the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) region and in North America since September 1, 2016 and October 1, 2016, respectively.[44][45][46][47] In November 2018, Axis Communications was delisted from Nasdaq Stockholm.[48][49]

In May 2018, Axis opened a new R&D office for software development in Linköping, Sweden.[50] In late October 2020, Axis Communications moved into their new head office in Lund, Sweden with the primary focus being employee health and well-being.[51]

Acquisitions[edit]

On May 30, 2016, Axis Communications acquired 2N, a provider of IP intercom systems based in the Czech Republic.[52][53] On June 3, 2016, Axis Communications acquired Cognimatics, a video analytics provider for retail applications such as people counting, queue measurement and occupancy estimation.[54][55]

Citilog[edit]

On February 1, 2016, Axis Communications acquired Citilog, a video analytics provider for traffic and transportation security and safety applications.[56][57] On April 30, 2021, Axis Communications announced that it was selling Citilog,[58] citing challenges in finding "desired synergies because of our different go-to-market models."[59]

Technology[edit]

Network cameras[edit]

Axis Communications develops and sells network cameras for many applications. Products include PTZ,[60] vandal resistant,[61][62] thermal,[63] outdoor,[64] nitrogen-pressurized,[65] HDTV,[66] wireless,[67] motion detection[68] and progressive scan[69] cameras. It introduced the industry's first thermal network camera, the AXIS Q1910, in January 2010[70][71] and the industry's first HDTV network camera, the AXIS Q1755, in December 2008.[72][73][74]

Body cameras[edit]

In March 2020, Axis Communications entered the body cam market with its own open architecture system competing with market incumbents Axon, Digital Ally, Wolfcom and Motorola Solutions with its Watchguard Video brand.[75][76] Currently Axis Communications has only developed The AXIS W100 released July 15, 2020. The camera has WDR, Dual Microphones for noise suppression, a battery life of over 12 hours, and an easy to use application for noting incidents, viewing recordings, and managing many body cameras within an agency.[77]

ARTPEC[edit]

ARTPEC (Axis Real Time Picture Encoder Chip) is an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) developed by Axis Communications which powers many Axis devices. There are currently 8 generations of the chip. All chips run AXIS OS - a modified version of Linux designed for embedded devices. Developers can use ACAP,[78] Axis' API to design custom applications for Axis Devices. Since ARTPEC-1, custom GStreamer plugins were developed by Axis to provide video services from the camera. In the case of some devices, an additional field-programmable gate array (FPGA) or coprocessor can be added to help ARTPEC. For example, multi-sensor cameras such as the AXIS P3707-PE use a Cyclone IV FPGA to aid ARTPEC-5 during H.264 video encoding.

History And Architecture Of ARTPEC
Generation Release Year Main CPU Architecture Local Central Processing Units Architecture


(Encoding and Video Pipeline)

Information
ARTPEC-1 1999 ETRAX CRIS N/A Development began in 1996 in order to allow higher video quality from Network Cameras. This processor was inside the AXIS 2100. This was the first mass-produced product in the world to use Embedded Linux.[79][80][81]
ARTPEC-2 2003 ETRAX CRIS N/A ARTPEC-2 introduced MPEG video encoders, higher performance, and a more advance image processing pipeline.
ARTPEC-3 2007 ETRAX CRIS N/A ARTPEC-3 introduced H.264/AVC video encoders, HDTV video quality, higher performance, and a more sophisticated image processing pipeline.
ARTPEC-4 2011 MIPS architecture ETRAX CRIS ARTPEC-4 had many breakthroughs in surveillance technology. The processor introduced an advanced image processing pipeline allowing cameras to see color in low light conditions with a technology called Lightfinder.
ARTPEC-5 2013 MIPS architecture ETRAX CRIS ARTPEC-5 introduced immense improvements in video quality, higher performance, an improved image processing pipeline allowing for better light sensitivity, WDR, and security.
ARTPEC-6 2016 ARM architecture ETRAX CRIS ARTPEC-6 has improved video quality, security, processing speed, and a new WDR technology called Forensic WDR. Forensic WDR adjusts the sensor's electronic shutter speed and video encoders to make sure image details are clear and motion blur is at a minimum.
ARTPEC-7 2019 ARM architecture ETRAX CRIS ARTPEC-7 introduced High Efficiency Video Coding, Machine Learning Processing Unit,[82] and more security features such secure boot, which prevents booting of unauthorized firmware.[83] Additionally, a new image processing pipeline brought Lightfinder 2.0 capabilities allowing cameras to see color in extreme low light conditions.
ARTPEC-8 2021 ARM architecture ETRAX CRIS ARTPEC-8 has the same technologies as its predecessor such as Lightfinder 2.0, Video Encoders, and Secure Boot. However, ARTPEC-8 is specifically designed for Computer Vision applications. The chip has a deep learning processor to allow for powerful video analytics such as improved object classification and scene behavior.[84]
An old AXIS 2100 network camera
An AXIS P3717-PLE Network Camera, circa 2019. This device has 4 adjustable camera heads allowing for 360 degree coverage of an area. The camera is powered by an AXIS ARTPEC-6.[85]

P-Iris[edit]

P-Iris (Precise Iris Control) is a type of network camera lens that together with specialized software installed in the camera itself regulates the iris opening through the use of a stepper motor for contrast, clarity, resolution and depth of field.[86][87][88] P-Iris maintains image quality by continuously adjusting the iris position.[89][90] This position, also referred to as a specific f-number, is where the lens works best and optical errors are reduced.[89] P-Iris was developed by Axis Communications and the Japanese lens maker Kowa.[91][92]

If the iris closes too much in bright situations this causes diffraction in the image.[91] P-Iris is used for Megapixel and HDTV network cameras because of the compounding effect caused by the smaller size of the pixels in the image sensor[91][92][93] Megapixel and HDTV network cameras are based on a megapixel image sensor (1 million or more pixels) and have significantly more pixels than standard resolution network cameras. A smaller pixel can't gather as much light as a larger pixel as it has less surface.[88] This results in a need to be able to precisely adjust the levels of light coming into megapixel and HDTV network cameras.[88][94][95] The first product incorporating P-Iris technology was the AXIS P1346 network camera.[88][93]

Corridor format[edit]

Corridor format is a video surveillance format for HDTV network cameras making full use of the 16:9 aspect ratio when monitoring narrow view areas such as staircases, hallways, aisles or tunnels.[96][97] When using the regular landscape video surveillance format for narrow view areas, the full resolution of a HDTV network camera is not utilized as large parts of the field of view are redundant.[98] Corridor format technology turns the 16:9 aspect ratio into 9:16 while HDTV standards such as full frame rate and resolution are maintained.[99] Either the HDTV network camera is installed sideways or the 3-axis lens is rotated 90 degrees when mounting the camera.[100] Then the video image is rotated back 90 degrees by the internal camera software.[99] Corridor format can be accessed by software vendors through an open API.[101][102]

Lightfinder[edit]

Lightfinder is a technology that allows network cameras to maintain details and colors in very dark and low light conditions compared to conventional day/night technologies that provide a black-and-white image.[103][104] It consists of a high performance low light CMOS image sensor, an optimized lens and a custom-designed ASIC running a specialized image processing pipeline.[105] Algorithms fine-tuned to the characteristics of the lens and image sensor allow for better image quality in near darkness.[106] Lightfinder technology helps identify people or vehicles in demanding video surveillance applications such as construction sites or parking lots.[104][107] IR illuminators are often no longer required.[102][104] The first product incorporating Lightfinder technology was the AXIS Q1602 network camera.[102][108] The AXIS P1375 was the first product to incorporate Lightfinder 2.0 which improved on the Lightfinder 1.0 standard allowing the camera to see color in even more low light environments (0.01 lux at 50 IRE F1.2) with forensic detail.[109]

Zipstream[edit]

Compatible with the existing H.264 and H.265 network infrastructures and video management software, Zipstream is a more efficient H.264 and H.265 implementation reducing network camera bandwidth and storage consumption.[110][111] Zipstream analyzes and optimizes the video stream in real time. It reduces the bit rate of the video stream by applying the concepts of dynamic Region of Interest (ROI) and dynamic Group of Pictures (GOP).[112][113] Forensic details like faces and license plates are isolated and preserved, while irrelevant areas such as walls and vegetation are sacrificed by smoothing in order to reduce bandwidth and storage consumption.[114][115] Zipstream has been further developed to automatically adapt to PTZ camera movements and support the concept of dynamic Frames per Second to optimize the video stream's bit rate in real time.[116]

Video encoders[edit]

Axis Communications develops and sells video encoders allowing for video from analog systems to be converted into digital format for IP networks.[117][118] Recent models are now based on the H.264 video compression format lowering bandwidth and storage requirements without impacting image clarity.[119][120] The company sells 1-port, 4-port, 6-port and 16-port video encoders as well as rack-mountable systems for large installations.[121][122][123][124][125] Due to the expansion of Network cameras, Axis Communications no longer mass-produces video encoders. Video encoders are still supported and can still be purchased.

Video management software[edit]

Axis Communications sells a full-featured video management software which it markets under the name AXIS Camera Station.[126][127] The software provides remote video monitoring, recording and event management functionality.[128][129] Its API allows the integration with other systems such as point of sale and access control.[126][129] Axis only sells a light-weight remote-viewing application under the name AXIS Companion.[130]

Video analytics[edit]

Axis Camera Application Platform, an open API, enables development of applications by third parties that can be downloaded and installed on Axis products.[131][132] This allows software companies to offer video analytics applications for Axis network cameras providing functionalities such as object detection, behavioral analysis, facial recognition, counting, detection, and tracking.[133][134]

Physical access control[edit]

Axis Communications started offering physical access control systems in late 2013.[135][136] The first product was the AXIS A1001 network door controller.[137][138] It had an open interface for integration with other IP-based security system components and third-party software.[135][139] The AXIS A1001 network door controller was the first ONVIF conformant physical access control system available on the market.[140][141]

Network audio[edit]

In March 2015, Axis Communications introduced its first network audio product, a horn speaker providing talk-down audio functionality for security applications.[142][143] In September 2016, it introduced two network audio loudspeakers for background music and for live or scheduled announcements in retail stores.[144] In September 2017, Axis Communications expanded its network audio offering with an analog to IP audio converter and a PA system.[145][146]

Radar[edit]

In 2017, Axis Communications introduced its first radar, the D2050-VE, which allowed for minimization of false alarms, analytics, classification of objects, and more auto-tracking capabilities for Axis PTZ Cameras.[147] In 2019 Axis introduced the D2110-VE radar which has Machine learning and Deep learning capabilities.

Common Product Lines And Naming Conventions[edit]

Due to Axis Communications expanding its product line, a clean and appropriate naming convention is used to easily identify devices.[148]

Naming Convention - Network Cameras
Series Type Of Device Series Number Running Number Resolution Extensions Version
M: Affordable, high-performance cameras

P: Versatile, high-performance cameras

Q: Robust cameras for mission-critical applications

V: Live streaming cameras for professional use

1: Box Camera

2: Box Camera

3: Dome Camera

4: Dome Camera

5: PTZ Camera

6: PTZ Camera

8: Positioning Camera

0-9 0-9 1: VGA

2: 4CIF

3: SVGA

4: 720p

5: 1080p

6: 3-5 megapixels

7: 5-8 megapixels

8: 8-15 megapixels

9: 15 megapixels

C: Climate Controlled

E: For outdoor use

L: Built-in illuminator (IR)

P: Panoramic

S: Stainless Steel

R: Rugged

V: Vandal-resistant

W: Wireless

Mk I

Mk II

Mk III

Naming Convention - Video Encoders
Series Type Of Device Series Number Generation Number Number Of Channels Extensions Version
M: Affordable, high-performance video products

P: Versatile, high-performance video products

Q: Advance video products for mission critical systems

7: Video encoders 0-9 0-9 1: 1 Channel

4: 4 Channels

16: 16 Channels

R: Rugged Mk I

Mk II

Mk III

Naming Convention - Network Audio Devices
Series Type Of Device Series Number Generation Number Running Number Extensions
C: Network Audio Devices 1: Network Speakers

3: Microphone

7: Audio Management Software

8: Audio System Devices

0-9 0-9 0-9 E: For outdoor use
Naming Convention - System Devices
Series Type Of Device Series Number Generation Number Running Number Extensions
D: System Devices 1: Decoders

2: Radars

3: Audio Devices and I/O

4: Alarm and Signaling Devices

6: Portcast Devices

7: Analytics Devices

8: Network Switches

0-9 0-9 0-9 E: For outdoor use

V: Vandal-resistant

Naming Convention - Network Intercoms
Series Type Of Device Series Number Running Number Resolution Extensions
I: Network Intercoms 8: Network Intercoms 0-9 0-9 1: VGA

2: 4CIF

3: SVGA

4: 720p

5: 1080p

6: 3-5 megapixels

7: 5-8 megapixels

8: 8-15 megapixels

9: 15 megapixels

E: For outdoor use

L: Built-in illuminator (IR)

V: Vandal-resistant

W: Wireless

Naming Convention - Software Solutions
Series Type Of Device Series Number Number Of Pre-installed Licenses
S: Software Solutions 1: Recorder

2: Appliance

0-9 08: 8 Licences

16: 16 Licences

24: 24 Licenses

32: 32 Licences

48: 48 Licenses

Naming Convention - Wearable Devices
Series Type Of Device Generation Number Running Number
W: Wearables 1: Body camera

2: Docking Station

3: System Controller

0-9 0-9

Other[edit]

Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities[edit]

In October 2021, cybersecurity research firm Nozomi Networks published "three new vulnerabilities (CVE-2021-31986, CVE-2021-31987, CVE-2021-31988) affecting all Axis devices based on the embedded AXIS OS."[149] Axis and Nozomi collaborated throughout the research and disclosure process, with Nozomi publishing a statement from Axis in its announcement of the vulnerability.[149]

In order to execute said exploits, the potential adversary needs network access and administrator level access to the Axis device.[150] A week after their discoveries, CVE-2021-31986, CVE-2021-31987, and CVE-31998 have been patched in AXIS OS 10.7, AXIS OS 2016 LTS Track 6.50.5.5, AXIS OS 2018 LTS Track 8.40.4.3, and AXIS OS 2020 LTS Track 9.80.3.5.[151][150]

We thank Nozomi Networks for their research and good collaboration throughout the disclosure process. AXIS Communications welcomes researchers to inspect our devices and firmware as it is our belief that long-term sustainable cyber security is created through collaboration and transparency.

— Sebastian Hultqvist, Global Product Manager for AXIS OS[149]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Coordinates: 55°43′07″N 13°13′13″E / 55.7185°N 13.2203°E / 55.7185; 13.2203