AI Boxes help fuel proliferation of video analytics


End users everywhere are catching on to the many benefits to be had from AI Boxes. Accurate deep-learning technology comes complete with a host of new capabilities that extend well beyond the traditional security applications of surveillance cameras. Sure, cameras are still relied upon for safety, risk management and loss prevention, but their intelligent deep-learning abilities allow for even wider uses, and AI Boxes are now enabling those same cameras to deliver a whole lot more value.

Some AI Boxes come pre-loaded with deep-learning analytics to apply AI-powered functionality to standard cameras. This means store managers can apply context to the video footage their security cameras already capture. They give regular surveillance cameras the ability to classify and identify people, objects, and color. They also allow users to set up real-time trigger events, as well as quickly and accurately search for people and vehicles.

End users across pretty much all industries are struggling to adapt to the pressures of increasing costs, supply chain disruption, tighter labor markets, and a widespread squeeze on consumer spending. The increased operational efficiencies and business intelligence that AI provides is now, more than ever, a most attractive offering.

The fact that video analytics, with the help of an AI Box, can now tap into all these wider applications and in a way that is easy and affordable is catalyzing very high demand for these add-on appliances. They’re proving the perfect solution for organizations to work smarter, and automate and digitize processes. And, because of their low cost, even small businesses can leverage the analytics-driven metrics of activity on-site affordably.

AI Boxes are more than earning their keep – they can help with everything from better resource targeting by making sure that employees are deployed more effectively, reducing the operational burden on managers overseeing front-line teams, and facilitating a better understanding of facilities and workspace usage.

The Covid-19 pandemic put a lot of firms out of business, but many of those that weathered the storm relied on the analytics they needed to adhere to Covid guidelines, such as social distancing and face coverings adherence. Post-pandemic, they’re recognizing that they can leverage video analytics in new ways. This has helped usher in a new era of use of AI video analytics, along with new opportunities for systems integrators (SIs).

The myriad benefits that AI Boxes provide over other modes of using AI and analytics make them an easy sell for SIs. And the retail market is ripe for the picking. While there are many, the three top tier benefits of AI Boxes are their ease of adoption, ease-of-use, and affordability. But there are other advantages too, including interoperability. Retailers with small, local, often geographically spread out branches especially recognize the perks. They want to benefit from essential analytics features without the cost, waste, and complexity of ripping and replacing cameras or investing in expensive software. For these users, it’s reassuring to know that the AI Box technology they adopt will continue to be developed by the manufacturer and functionality will grow in line with the latest advancements in the sector. This is welcome news, even for early adopter, as there’s no risk that they’re buying into a dead-end technology.

An AI appliance should be designed to target all these benefits. For example, a four-channel, add-on appliance that gives users additional functionality from either their existing cameras and recorders or new systems will provide highly accurate analysis from more angles than ever before. Aesthetics is another important consideration for retailers, so it’s an attractive advantage that their stores needn’t have to be cluttered with additional and oftentimes unsightly electronic hardware.

Putting them head and shoulders above other modes of AI and analytics, AI Box appliances mean rapid plug-and-play installation, no complex configuration, and zero upfront or ongoing license fees. This makes it simple for smaller retailers to start tapping into essential actionable intelligence, including queue monitoring, heat mapping, occupancy monitoring, and real-time activity data from specified locations.

The ability to deliver these highly accurate analytics using cameras positioned for perspective view, without needing additional dedicated “top of head” cameras, minimizes costs and makes it possible for users to analyze a wide range of metrics, even from small-scale camera systems. Users don’t need additional expensive or complicated analytics software or edge camera upgrades, making AI Boxes uniquely affordable.

AI Boxes can also be integrated to add more channels and cover multiple stores. Data and reporting tools are accessed via client software, giving head office and branch managers the intelligence they need, while busy store staff benefit from at-a-glance dashboards. This makes it easy for both local and senior teams to generate reports on day-to-day activity, as well as longer term or seasonal trends while also gaining business-building store and customer insights.

While all sectors are increasingly recognizing their value, retail leads the pack when it comes to adoption of AI Boxes. Users span mid-sized malls, supermarkets, boutiques, and particularly retailers that need to manage multiple chains, such as groceries, fashion, coffee shops, casual dining, pet supplies and accessories. And keep in mind that retail was an especially hard hit sector courtesy of COVID-19, as much of the brick and mortar customer base converted to online shopping during the lockdowns, and retailers continue to battle the fallout of increased competitive pressures from e-Commerce giants.

AI Boxes have been a saving grace for retailers looking for technologies that can support them more effectively as they struggle to integrate their online and logistics operations with brick-and-mortar stores, to offer consumers a hybrid model. That means retraining staff, while driving down operating costs by finding new efficiencies; using actionable intelligence to streamline operations from stock delivery and tracking to point of sale; focusing on building loyalty in-store through an improved customer experience; tackling shrinkage, and focusing on other costs such as staff retention attraction, and performance.

Video analytics in the form of AI Boxes are helping to tackle those challenges while significantly reducing costs across entire operations, helping businesses to remain relevant to consumers and to stay competitive. As retailers look to build customer loyalty and adapt to tough trading conditions, more than ever they need affordable tools and technology to help them drive efficiency across their operations. Video analytics has a vital role to play, and AI Boxes designed as a practical, affordable solution that will deliver immediate advantages, not only for retailers, but for enterprises across all industry sectors.