Proposed NICE standards promise more powerful smart cameras, no matter the brand

Smart cameras are one step closer to a set of features not restricted by brand. The Network of Intelligent Camera Ecosystem (NICE) Alliance has released a draft of specifications and features for an upcoming system that would allow smart cameras to expand real-time analytics and communicate with other cameras, no matter the brand. The alliance is looking for feedback on the specifications before launching a final version in mid-2019.

The NICE Alliance does for smart cameras what Android does for smartphones — creates a set of standards that allows cameras from competing brands to run the same apps. But the NICE Alliance goes further to create a standard for smart cameras that would also allow for shared cloud processing and shared artificial intelligence algorithms, as well as the possibility of sharing apps. 

With the upcoming standards, individual cameras could be more powerful, while cameras from multiple brands in a single security or smart home system could communicate with each other. Designed for smart cameras such as security cameras, baby monitors, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the NICE Alliance’s goal is to create an infrastructure that expands the capabilities and longevity of cameras. By sharing A.I. algorithms, the alliance could also help smart cameras receive new features faster.

The specifications’ key features touch on four areas: Secured camera application management, scene-based app interface, layered camera interface, and distributed A.I. management. The first allows all participating cameras to connect to a cloud for configuration that’s both automatic and secure. The scene-based app interface deals with developing an interface to help process what the camera sees, including mixing the feed from multiple cameras. A layered camera interface allows cameras to use advanced processing capabilities, but without the complexities typically associated with getting such a system up and running. 

Finally, distributed A.I. allows for the spreading of A.I. algorithms between the cloud, the camera, and the sensor, allowing for faster, more accurate analysis of the footage. The algorithms directly on the camera allow for immediate analysis of the footage, while the cloud-based applications go more in depth, effectively giving the system layers of analysis.

Introduced in March 2018, the NICE Alliance originally consisted of Foxconn, Nikon, Scenera, Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation, and Wistron. Since the group’s founding, Allion, Augenix, and TnM Tech have joined the group.

The drafted specifications are now available online for review and feedback.

Updated on March 26 with a corrected estimate for the final specifications. 

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