An overwhelming number of close circuits television cameras across the world are analog models whose low quality images proved very often to be a challenge for its users; 2011 however could be the year where full HD CCTV cameras become mainstream.
While Digital Video Recorders have rapidly replaced tape-based VCRs, analog video still rules the world of video security and therefore severely restricts the amount of data that can be captured as most analog sensors have a maximum resolution of 320,000 pixels.
To some extent, CCTV remained the last place in the world of video content creation where standard definition rules, despite the fact that 1080i camcorders with built-in zoom lenses and hard drives can be had for less than $400 (£250).
However, last year saw the launch of a number of the HD-CCTV cameras using a high definition serial digital interface, or HDSDI, which is capable of sending uncompressed 720p or 1080p video at 30 frames per second over off-the-shelf coaxial cable.
That's six times the resolution of any standard NTSC video footage and at 2-megapixel would deliver significantly more details like number plates or an individual's distinctive characteristics that could pass as an artifact on an analog system.
In addition, swapping analog for digital means more flexibility for the users; DVRs for example only need a hard disk swap every two years to quadruple their storage capacity whereas VHS tapes maxed out at five hours in SP mode in PAL.
A single 2TB hard disk drive can record nearly eight days worth of full HD 1080p footage at 30fps and twice that amount if the number of frames or the resolution is halved.
Furthermore, as compression technology improves and sensor chips cram more pixels, a mere camera swap would do the job as long as the physical connector remains the same.
There's even a HDCCTV non-profit Alliance that regroups around 50 members and aims to encourage the roll out of high definition CCTV as open industry standards.
Full HD CCTV are still expensive compared to their SD counterparts; the cheapest 1080p models on the market cost around £600 (or $1000) while bog standard wired CCTV cameras can cost less than £50.
Some however argue that a full HD CCTV system can cover more square footage than eight sub-megapixel ones while maintaining or even improving the image quality; this reduces maintenance costs and makes CCTVs less intrusive.
The global market for HD-CCTV cameras is expected to reach 15 million units by 2015 and given that in the UK alone, there are an estimated 4.8 million cameras (based on a report published four yeas ago), the upgrade market for HD CCTVs is indeed a very promising one.