Tapping the Power of the Ethernet

A standard finds new strength

There’s common ground between security end-users and electrical contractors/integrators, and it lies in the Ethernet. There is renewed interest in this networking medium for new tasks and applications, thanks to software, hardware and power management developments from the field and savvy manufacturers who finally see the true merging of security and data/information technology in present terms and not simply future-speak.

Security and integrated systems technologies are at a turning point. The name of the game centers around refinements and enhancements to existing, proven services. For example, in closed-circuit television surveillance, manufacturers have introduced and perfected lens and lighting technology, as well as honed in on super-smart detection and advanced transmission capabilities. In networked transmissions and applications—especially the LAN and WAN via the Ethernet—the focus too has been on providing more meat and potatoes, rather than bells and whistles, so end-users can finally begin to attain an integrated application environment.

Having the ability to retrofit an application via the Ethernet is certainly one way to smooth the move to integrated systems, especially because this existing infrastructure is so prevalent. There are a number of different ways companies are tapping the power of the Ethernet, including traditional hardwired devices and cabling coupled with software innovation; wireless; and power.

Audio and intercoms are integral to security and safety, and voice quality audio over the Ethernet, wireless and fiber, in local area or wide area networks is a reality. Digital Acoustics Corp., Westport, Conn., recently introduced a new Ethernet intercom to the industry, the “first of its class to provide simple, scalable audio communication over existing TCP/IP networks,” said Kim Kopp, vice president of marketing. “It’s easy to add audio over the existing system. Many facilities already have Category 5 cabling installed. Our product can be scaled to the application and integrated with the LAN or WAN.”

Digital Acoustics’ ii3 IP Intercom Series provides an audio equivalent to the basic Push-to-Talk point-to-multipoint intercom and allows the electrical contractor or integrator to connect an OEM module to a 10/100 Ethernet network and communicate to a host server PC by voice.

“For the installer, this means reduced wiring costs through shared transport. It also integrates with network video solutions, adding two-way audio to systems,” Kopp added. The product features two operating modes: a PC-Server with software connected to multiple intercoms, as in a point to multipoint configuration, or direct, with one ii3IP Intercom configured as a server connected to another as a client in a point-to-point connect with crossover cable or via hub/switch. For OEMs and integrators who want to develop custom audio interfaces for video, monitoring stations and entry systems, TalkMaster i/TalkX Software Developer Kit provides the capability.

Addressing the use of the existing network from the power side, PowerDsine, co-founder of the IEEE 802.3af Task Force for standardizing Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology released a LAN midspan device which enables IP phones and wireless LAN access points to share power and data over Ethernet cable.

“IP surveillance cameras are increasingly replacing CCTV surveillance and monitoring devices in enterprise and industrial applications because organizations want to be able to leverage their existing Ethernet infrastructure and better manage their security monitoring devices,” said Rafi Philosoph, director of product management, PowerDsine Ltd., Hod Hasharon, Israel.

“The power delivered over the Ethernet infrastructure is automatically activated when a compatible terminal is identified, and blocked to legacy devices that are not compatible,” Philosoph said.

Wireless continues to have an influence in all types of security and data communications and integrated functions, and the Ethernet is no exception. Piggybacking off continued innovation in the cellular industry, Perseus Wireless, San Diego, recently introduced the PerseusPhone and Perseus VideoServer. The PerseusPhone provides mobile access with secure authentication, intelligent buffering and MPEG-4 compression to produce real-time, full-motion video over cellular at 15 frames per second. The Perseus VideoServer is a standalone or wireless extension that provides streaming video output. The product can be connected to existing security cameras, CCTV systems and DVRs over standard cellular networks for display on the PerseusPhone.

“The user can extend legacy security systems to a network environment without expensive upgrades,” said Marshall Merrifield, president, CEO and co-founder of Perseus Wireless. “The technology not only supports cellular, but Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity and the GPRS standard to work with existing 2G, 2.5G and 3G wireless networks. Distance and browser-based restrictions no longer exist.”

The Ethernet is the perfect transmission medium for a host of information, security and data tasks, and it’s undergoing a major transformation as manufacturers, end-users and integrators work to use this existing infrastructure to its fullest. EC

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications in Park Ridge, Ill., specializing in low-voltage. She can be reached at 847.384.1916 or domara@earthlink.net.


About the Author

Deborah L. O'Mara

Freelance Writer
Deborah L. O’Mara is a journalist with more than two decades experience writing about security, life safety and systems integration, and she is the managing director of DLO Communications in Chicago. She can be reached at dlocommunications@gmail.com...

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