Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have turned cameras into more than an extension of physical security operations. For years, surveillance went hand-in-hand with security — business owners used video cameras as a safety measure and nothing more.

Today, software algorithms are capable of performing the in-depth video analysis typically reserved for human security guards monitoring CCTV feeds. Instead of passively logging footage for evidence, AI algorithms working with video IoT sensors provide the business insights companies need to improve their operations beyond basic surveillance.

The eyes of the operations: how neural networks teach cameras to “think”

Prior to AI-enhanced software, video analytics operated on rule-based algorithms. For example: If a camera sees a person walking toward an automatic sliding door, it triggers a sensor to open the door before there’s a collision.

But rules-based algorithms function on the premise that humans can guess and program all possible variations of events in a scene, limiting how effectively a video sensor can respond  to a scene it doesn’t recognize. With AI and machine learning, cameras get a ‘brain’ they can use to learn from and interact with foreign circumstances.

As video cameras learn to process what they record in real time and rely less on a series of inputs and outputs, companies will benefit from two major AI-powered capabilities:

  1. Advanced object detection: While previous camera services could perform basic object recognition, they were often limited to distinguishing between general subjects like people versus vehicles. Deep learning algorithms now enable video monitoring systems to figure out specific details about what cameras are seeing. This includes more granular information such as if the person in the video is a woman or a man, and what color his or her clothes are.
  2. In-depth behavioral analysis: In the past, human operators reviewed video footage to interpret the facial expressions of subjects in the footage. Analytics technology can now teach cameras how to read micro-expressions, helping marketers and behavioral analysts alike understand how their customers feel during their experience. Smart cameras, for example, can determine if a shopper is excited or confused when presented with different retail advertisements or product displays.

Smart video insights provide businesses a leg up on the competition

Security is a priority for any business, but generating revenue and growing the bottomline take the cake. Today, organizations can optimize their recording devices to get even more valuable data out of their existing surveillance cameras.

Retailers, for example, are benefiting from intelligent video’s ability to observe and interpret the emotional state of shoppers. One French bookstore wp-contentlied behavioral analytics to its video feeds to analyze shopper movements and facial expressions as they perused the brick-and-mortar shop. The analytics software looked for reactions like surprise or hesitation, notifying the store’s employees when cameras detected those emotions. This allowed clerks to intervene and help frustrated customers before they took their business elsewhere.

Similarly, convenience stores like Amazon Go employ cameras with advanced object recognition software to confirm which items shoppers pick and ensure proper payment. Powered by deep learning technology, Amazon’s store cameras utilize complex pattern recognition to detect when products are taken off the shelf. The cameras can even track when a customer put objects back. While the cameras double as a means to prevent shoplifting, their primary function is to improve the customer experience and support Amazon’s mission of providing unmatched convenience for shoppers.

Using video cameras for security purposes will never go away, but organizations recognize they can optimize cameras to do more than monitor public spaces. When businesses are able to look beyond the basic surveillance benefits their video provide, they’ll find a wealth of valuable insights that can help grow their bottomline.