Axis Communications

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Axis Communications AB
Public
Traded as Nasdaq StockholmAXIS
Industry Video surveillance
Founded 1984[1]
Founders Mikael Karlsson
Martin Gren
Keith Bloodworth
Headquarters Lund, Sweden
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Ray Mauritsson, CEO
Jonas Hansson, CIO
Johan Paulsson, CTO
Fredrik Sjöstrand, CFO
Products Network cameras
Network video encoders
Network video recorders
Video management systems
Video analytics
Physical access control
Revenue Increase SEK 8.6 billion (2017)[2]
Increase SEK 1.014 million (2017)[2]
Number of employees
2,865[2]
Website www.axis.com

Axis Communications AB is a Swedish manufacturer of network cameras for the physical security and video surveillance industries.[3][4][5]

History[edit]

Axis Communications originally started out as an IT company selling print servers.[6][7] It then applied its knowledge in networks and embedded computing to develop network cameras for the security industry.[8][9][10] Most of its products contain an embedded computer with some flash memory and run a custom version of Linux.[11] One of its major breakthroughs in technology was the development of JFFS, which extended the lifetime of the devices' flash memory.[12][13]

Origins[edit]

Axis Communications was founded in 1984 by Martin Gren, Mikael Karlsson and Keith Bloodworth in Lund, Sweden.[1][14] The company developed and sold protocol converters and printer interfaces for the connection of PC printers in IBM mainframe and mini-computer environments.[15][16][17] 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.[16][18]

Expansion[edit]

In 1991, Axis Communications introduced a multi-protocol print server supporting both TCP/IP and NetWare.[7][19] 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.[19][20] Also by 1995, Axis Communications had opened sales offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo, Japan.[19]

Focus on network cameras[edit]

In 1996, Axis Communications introduced the industry's first network camera, the AXIS 200.[21][6][22][23][24][25] This was followed in 1999 by the AXIS 2100 which was the first volume product using an embedded Linux.[19] In 2004, the company introduced the AXIS 206, the then smallest network camera.[19][26]

Founding of industry standards body[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).[27][28][29][30] Axis Communications introduced its first product with ONVIF support in 2009, the AXIS P3301. There are now over 600 ONVIF conformant products available.[31][32]

Today[edit]

Axis Communications operates offices in more than 50 countries and employs over 2,800 people.[2][33][34][35] 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.[36][37][38] Installations include the City of Houston,[39] Sydney Airport,[40] Moscow Metro[41] and Madrid Buses.[42] In 2014, Axis Communications published a sustainability report disclosing it had reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 13 percent and that 65 percent of the company's network cameras and video encoders are PVC-free.[2]

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.[43][44] While Canon is the majority shareholder, Axis is run independently. However, Canon's portfolio of network video solutions is marketed by Axis Communications in the EMEA region and in North America since September 1, 2016 and October 1, 2016 respectively.[45][46][47]

On July 18, 2017, security researchers published a cybersecurity vulnerability in a piece of code called gSOAP. All ONVIF compatible security products were affected, including those from Axis Communications.[48][49]

Acquisitions[edit]

On February 1, 2016 Axis Communications acquired Citilog, a video analytics provider for traffic and transportation security and safety applications.[50][51] On May 30, 2016 Axis Communications acquired 2N, a provider of IP intercom solutions 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]

Technology[edit]

Network cameras[edit]

Axis Communications develops and sells network cameras for many applications. Products include PTZ[56], vandal resistant[57][58], thermal[59], outdoor[60], nitrogen-pressurized[61], HDTV[62], wireless[63], motion detection[64] and progressive scan[65] cameras. It introduced the industry's first thermal network camera, the AXIS Q1910, in January 2010[66][67] and the industry's first HDTV network camera, the AXIS Q1755, in December 2008.[68][69][70]

An old AXIS 2100 network camera
A modern (P13 series) network camera from Axis Communications, circa 2013[71]

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.[72][73][74] P-Iris maintains image quality by continuously adjusting the iris position.[71][75] This position, also referred to as a specific f-number, is where the lens works best and optical errors are reduced.[71] P-Iris was developed by Axis Communications and the Japanese lens maker Kowa.[76][77]

If the iris closes too much in bright situations this causes diffraction in the image.[76] 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 [76][77][78] 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.[74] This results in a need to be able to precisely adjust the levels of light coming into megapixel and HDTV network cameras.[74][79][80] The first product incorporating P-Iris technology was the AXIS P1346 network camera.[74][78]

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.[81][82] 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.[83] Corridor format technology turns the 16:9 aspect ratio into 9:16 while HDTV standards such as full frame rate and resolution are maintained.[84] Either the HDTV network camera is installed sideways or the 3-axis lens is rotated 90 degrees when mounting the camera.[85] Then the video image is rotated back 90 degrees by the internal camera software.[84] Corridor format can be accessed by software vendors through an open API.[86][87]

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.[88][89] It consists of a high performance low light CMOS image sensor, an optimized lens and a custom-designed ASIC chip running specialized software for image processing.[90] Algorithms fine-tuned to the characteristics of the lens and image sensor allow for better image quality in near darkness.[91] Lightfinder technology helps identify people or vehicles in demanding video surveillance applications such as construction sites or parking lots.[89][92] IR illuminators are often no longer required.[87][89] The first product incorporating Lightfinder technology was the AXIS Q1602 network camera.[87][93]

Zipstream[edit]

Compatible with existing H.264 network infrastructure and video management software, Zipstream is a more efficient H.264 implementation reducing network camera bandwidth and storage consumption.[94][95] 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). [96][97] 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.[98][99] 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.[100]

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.[101][102] Recent models are now based on the H.264 video compression format lowering bandwidth and storage requirements without impacting image clarity.[103][104] The company sells 1-port, 4-port, 6-port and 16-port video encoders as well as rack solutions for large installations.[105][106][107][108][109]

Video management software[edit]

Axis Communications sells a video management software which it markets under the name AXIS Camera Station.[110][111] The software provides remote video monitoring, recording and event management functionality.[112][113] Its API allows the integration with other systems such as point of sale and access control.[110][113]

Video analytics software[edit]

Axis Camera Application Platform, an open API, enables development of applications by third parties that can be downloaded and installed on Axis products.[114][115] This allows software companies to offer video analytics applications for Axis network cameras providing functionalities such as recognition, counting, detection, and tracking.[116][117]

Physical access control[edit]

Axis Communications started offering physical access control solutions in late 2013.[118][119] The first product was the AXIS A1001 network door controller.[120][121] It had an open interface for integration with other IP-based security system components and third-party software.[118][122] The AXIS A1001 network door controller was the first ONVIF conformant physical access control solution available on the market.[123][124]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]