SnapAV has acquired Visualint, maker of surveillance cameras and DVR/NVRs with video analytics for more intelligent security monitoring. For the past few years, Visualint has been a rising star in the security and smart-home integration channels, with home automation drivers for Bitwise (Leviton), Control4, Crestron, Elan and Savant.
SnapAV, meanwhile, has become one of the most important distributors and product developers in the professional-installation channel over the past decade, with a wide range of products sold only through authorized dealers – never direct to consumers.
The company’s Luma line is the #2 surveillance brand among CE Pro 100 integrators, with 47 percent of the leading integrators specifying the products. The IP-surveillance category itself is booming. In 2016, dealers named it the hottest-selling category of the year.
Acquiring Visualint is “a great way to get into a subcategory in surveillance that we weren’t already in … in addition to our existing line of Luma products,” SnapAV president Adam Levy tells CE Pro. “Cameras are booming and dealers need differentiation. That’s where we’re winning – opening up new opportunities for dealers.”
One of the hottest of these “new opportunities” is simply the reduction of false alarms in video detection. Visualint technology allows cameras to distinguish between people, pets, cars, and swaying trees, for example, so it doesn’t trigger alerts on false positives. The technology also enables tracking and counting of people, cars, packages and other moving objects.
But video analytics can also be used for more proactive purposes when paired with a smart-home system. For example, users can create virtual “tripwires” to determine if people are coming or going, or if they are loitering too long in a certain area.
“You might want to build a system that pulls up the camera on the TV screen automatically,” says Levy, “but only when someone approaches, not when they’re walking away.”
Imagine rental properties, where owners can count people and animals to determine if renters are violating terms of their lease. Insurance companies could do the same, assessing risk based on activity at any given property, such as the number of vehicles and people coming, going and loitering at various hours.
Commercial applications, where Visualint thrives, are numerous – assessing traffic patterns in retail environments, monitoring the time that vehicles are parked in restricted spaces, capturing faces for a visitor database, or determining if items are left outside a loading dock or construction site.
For all of these emerging applications, CE Pro named video analytics as one of its Top 5 Home Technology Trends and Opportunities for 2016.
Levy says the Visualint products will begin to appear on the SnapAV dealer portal in Q1 2017. Initially, they will remain independent of SnapAV’s existing product lines, including Luma products as well as Snap’s OvrC remote-monitoring platform. Eventually, however, they will merge into a single ecosystem that includes other SnapAV solutions.
“Over time, the lines will become one family, but we really see it as an application-based story, not a good-better-best scenario,” Levy says. “It’s a great product lineup. We’re going to have a lot of happy dealers.”
More on SnapAV and Visualint
As mentioned above, SnapAV is becoming one of the most popular suppliers of specialty and commodity products for home-technology integrators.
The company’s portfolio includes loudspeakers (Episode brand), networking (Araknis), video surveillance (Luma), A/V distribution and cables (Binary), power management (WattBox), equipment racks and TV mounts (Strong), structured wiring (Wirepath) and outdoor televisions since the 2015 acquisition of category-leader Sunbrite TV.
In addition, SnapAV distributes remote controls and smart-home systems from URC. All of the products come together under SnapAV’s cloud-based remote-access platform called OvrC.
In our 2016 brand analysis, CE Pro 100 integrators cited SnapAV as the #1 supplier in the categories of acoustic treatments, speaker cables, video distribution systems, outdoor video, HDMI cables, IR distribution, TV mounts, and structured wiring and enclosures.
SnapAV also placed highly in the categories of audio amplifiers, outdoor speakers, soundbars, projection screens, A/V racks, power management, remote monitoring services and home networking.
SnapAV started life in 2006 as an importer of commodity products for the home-technology integrator channel. But over the years the company has boosted its product-design and -development efforts to become a leading innovator for professionally installed smart-home solutions. On top of that, the company provides industry-leading service and support, along with arguably the best in logistics and e-commerce.
With its critical mass of dealers and advanced logistics capabilities, the company has been looking outside for new products and opportunities for existing customers, expanding the market for emerging and under-achieving categories.
Video Analytics: CE Pro Top 5 Home Technology Trend for 2016
The acquisition of Visualint follows closely – both chronologically and strategically – last year’s acquisition of SunbriteTV, developer of outdoor displays.
SnapAV acquired the company for two reasons: 1) dealers were already buying Sunbrite TV, so why not grab that revenue for SnapAV? and 2) SnapAV could use Sunbrite as a stepping stone for a new category that didn’t already exist – modestly priced outdoor TVs for covered spaces that did not require the full feature set (or pricing) of a completely-exposed display.
“We learned a lot from the Sunbrite acquisition,” Levy says. “We’ve been tremendously successful taking what they did really well and what we do really well in terms of service, research and a deep understanding of the dealer channel … and we created a new line of Sunbrite products that has been fantastic.”
SnapAV intends to repeat the effort with Visualint, which Levy calls an “under-exposed company in an under-exposed, narrowly understood category.”
Visualint dates back to 2004, when founder Adrian Johnson established an IP-based monitoring station specializing in remote CCTV monitoring and cloud-based access control, along with remote security concierge services.
In 2010 he launched Visualint, with cameras, recorders and related gear, along with an “intuitive tracking engine” that “extracts real business value from any video surveillance installation.”
A chief tenet of the business was to take “integration to a whole new level,” and the company has done just that in the smart-home field with drivers for some of the major home-control systems.
The company today has roughly 15 employees and is profitable, according to Levy.
He says SnapAV selected the company because of its core technology and its understanding of and commitment to the home-technology channel but “just as important as anything else,” he says, “there was a good cultural fit. It was a good reason to buy a young company that has great things already, instead of starting from scratch.”
At the end of the day, SnapAV wants dealers and the broader community to know that “we are becoming more invested in the surveillance category,” Levy says. “In addition to everything with Luma, we will continue to poor R&D into surveillance.”