Every video-security installer can tell you a story about the retrofit job from hell. A story that usually begins with “It seemed pretty simple at the time,” and ends with “…I wish I’d never even drilled that first hole.”

Once the finish work is completed on new construction–especially after the owners have moved in–going back for a retrofit is a sure-fire way to induce panic in the customer and elevate your stress level.

Older homes can be even worse. One of my favorite stories is about a century-old farmhouse built from local timber. The plaster on the walls was as tough as reinforced concrete. Under the plaster, the lath boards were half-inch-thick black oak. The installer went through three drill bits and six saw blades just to flush in a single work box!

Sometimes we’re overly tool-centric. Sure, your job truck can be an arsenal, fully stocked with weapons of mass construction. But you may find yourself in a losing battle–when you might have been able to win without a fight.

SecureView, the brand name for a line of PLC video products from SeaView Video Technology, Inc., gives video-security pros a new set of options in the retrofit wars. SecureView delivers live, full-motion video via the AC wiring.

PLC (“Power Line Carrier”) has gotten a lot of attention in the last couple of years. While most of us are familiar with the wide variety of PLC controllers and switches, it’s only recently that newer products have appeared with higher-level functions. SecureView is unique among PLC products, since it’s focused strictly on video.

Video’s Bandwidth Burden

Video is time-sensitive and bandwidth-intense. All NTSC video is made up of individual electronic “frames,” sent at a rate of 30 frames per second (fps). The frames are interlaced, a technique developed when television was born in the 1930s. While modern technology is capable of progressive scan and higher sync rates, CCTV security products still rely on a standard set over half a century ago, optimized for the tube-circuit technology of the WWII era.

Digitizing this live video without compression generates a digital stream of 12 to 20 megabytes per second. Compression forces the user into making trade-offs between resolution and frame rate. The video must be stripped and squeezed to fit the “pipe.”

IRFS: The SecureView Solution

SecureView uses a proprietary technology, IRFS?, to transmit live video via power line. Unique among PLC technologies, IRFS achieves a “double modulation” of the video signal, avoiding A/D conversion and compression. There is no compromise or trade-off between frame rate, frame size, and resolution. The signal at the decoder’s video output is RS-170 compatible, and easily connected to a wide variety of video equipment, from standard consumer TVs and VCRs to commercial CCTV products. In the realm of video performance, no digitized solution comes close. And it’s PLC technology, with no additional wiring or cabling required. The delivery system is already inside and outside of every building with electrical service.

The original SecureView PLC product, the “camera in a light bulb,” combines stealth and convenience in an easy-to-deploy, relocatable system. Available in two styles–an indoor R-30 flood for ceiling cans and other fixtures, and a PAR-38 flood replica which is fully weatherproof–the SecureView PLC camera has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, TechTV, and in Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. The camera appeared on Home Shopping Network in October.

System integrators and resellers can also choose from other form factors, including a “box set” which accepts the output of any RS-170 standard video camera. SecureView IRFS technology is also available in circuit-board form to qualified VAR’s and resellers who build and certify their own stealth products.

SecureView PLC video is designed to co-exist with most PLC control technologies now being used; you should have no worries with conventional home-automation controllers. In some installations, as with PLC automation, signal bridging can improve performance.

Another plus: Unlike over-the-air “wireless” systems, PLC video is confined to the home wiring. Users are secure, knowing their video can’t be “sniffed” by a neighbor or from a passing car.

Whether overt or covert, the PLC advantage is clear: Without the burden of additional cabling, and minus the hassle of installation, SecureView products turn potential retrofit nightmares into sweet dreams. And multi-channel, multi-camera systems are already in beta.

So holster that drill, cowboy. With SecureView PLC video, you’re goin’ home early tonight.

Cory Tellbuescher cory@seaview.com is the Director of sales and marketing at SeaView Video Technology Inc.