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Digital technology makes security systems simpler

Updated:
Security systems for home and commercial use just got easier.

MCI/Panasonic, a security equipment provider, said Thursday that it has a new digital hard-disk recorder powered by programmable digital signal processors from Texas Instruments Inc.

The digital technology is designed to replace older, costly VHS tape-based systems that display jerky images at best and require tapes to be regularly changed, said Dr. Vincent McNeil, TI's worldwide network camera business manager.

Dallas-based TI said the new application is an example of how its researchers are working to extend DSP technology - which dominates the cellular telephone business - into a variety of markets.

Shares of TI closed up $1.13 to $70.

Security-conscious homeowners and businesses will find the new technology cheaper and more efficient than present systems, said Dr. McNeil.

Instead of searching through two-hour tapes to ferret out a security breach, homeowners and commercial security officers will be able to use a jpeg file that compresses images and stores them on a hard drive for more efficient, timely viewing.

Dr. McNeil said TI's DSP technology also allows networking, which means a customer can monitor security remotely, perhaps choosing to be alerted to a breach via e-mail.

Joe Freeman of the market research firm J.P. Freeman Co. said he is most impressed with the DSP's ability to detect motion. Existing systems generally use infrared technology and have to be "on" all the time. But the DSP chip effectively becomes the on-off switch, turning "on" when it picks up movement.

"Say you've got a big warehouse that's closed at night. If there's motion, the chip picks it up and the event is recorded," said Mr. Freeman.

Mr. Freeman said there's a potential commercial replacement market of $1 billion worldwide for video cameras, digital recorders and networked digital video servers. The household market will develop as more people upgrade to high-speed transmission. "Once you get broadband to the home, whether it's wireless or wired, that market number will grow," he said.

MCI is Matsushita Communication Industrial Co. of Yokohama, Japan.

TI will make the technology available to a broad line of equipment makers by the fall.
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