Chris Sanson Spoke to company founder Dieter Dallmeier ahead of his company's 30th anniversary.
From its origins as a two-person business, the Regensburg-based company has evolved into a successful global player with more than 250 employees. Today, Dallmeier ranks among the leading providers of network-based video security technology in the world, and a regular stream of ideas emerges from its vigorous research and rethinking programme.
How exactly did it all start, 30 years ago?
In 1984, I was a master television engineer, and after discussing the step with my wife Christina I decided to begin working for myself. Of course, it was not easy to begin with, and we constantly had to survive periods of belt tightening and we never knew how long they would last. But we were stubborn, and through the early years we never stopped believing in our vision and ideas.
Finally, in 1992 we made a truly indelible mark on the video security technology market: At a time when analogue VHS cassettes were being used widely in the industry, we unveiled the world’s first video sensor with digital image memory – and that was the start of DVRs! At first, many people ridiculed the idea, but this development turned out to be a milestone for the industry and heralded the beginning of the digital recording age for all video security technology.
Then, major breakthrough came in 1997. This was when we developed the first digital gambling table solution for the Crown Casino in Australia. Since then, demand for Dallmeier products has increased constantly.
Nowadays, our products and system solutions are sold in more than 60 countries worldwide through our distribution partners. We have also developed an international network of many agencies in countries such as Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Russia, Macao, Switzerland and the US, through which our partners and end customers can receive personal assistance and professional service on site.
So having started as a two-person company, in 30 years we have grown into a successful company with global presence. That’s a really long way!
Dallmeier has a reputation in the industry for constantly looking for new avenues…
Our motto is “innovate, don’t imitate”. So we have never been a company that blindly follows trends. Instead, we are always searching for the best solution. This also means that our research often takes us in unconventional directions, or sometimes that we are in direct opposition to the general tide of thought. For example, a few years ago, when more and more companies were relocating their production operations to Asia, we remained committed to our site in Germany – in fact we expanded our manufacturing facilities here.
Of course we don’t make decisions like this just on the basis of gut instinct. We place our trust in long-term planning and an uncompromising pursuit of quality. We take a keen interest in the current market and new developments, so that we can detect technology shifts early, for example, and incorporate them in our own development plans. But we don’t follow trends for the sake of following them. We always ask ourselves what advantages a new technology really offers – then we plan our approach accordingly.
This enthusiasm and passion for developing and driving groundbreaking new technologies has also been my motivation all these years. I still find it immensely exciting to see what the effects will be for our entire industry.
So what form does Development take at Dallmeier?
We are very interested in developing innovations that will define the nature of the industry in future, that function reliably and offer the user real benefits. In order to align our research work as efficiently and as closely as possible to real-life conditions, we cooperate very closely not only with universities and other institutions of higher education but also with research organisations such as the Fraunhofer Institut. We are also active participants in various clusters and networks, such as the IT Security Cluster, the Sensor Technology Cluster and the Network for Innovative Logistics. Dallmeier is also a member of a large number of international cooperations, such as the ESSMA (European Stadium and Safety Management Association).
Dallmeier has been causing a sensation for some time with its groundbreaking new multifocal sensor technology. What is so special about this?
For the last few years, camera manufacturers having been involved in a bitter struggle to offer the highest megapixel values. Rather than get involved in this unwinnable contest, we tried to approach the problem from the customer’s perspective. After all, the actual number of pixels is a matter of sublime indifference to the customer. He simply wants to know that his video system will help him to recognise and identify an individual of interest. And this question is not answered with resolution alone, especially when it is merely expressed as “5 megapixels” or something like that. In order to provide planning reliability, we define resolution in terms of pixels per metre (pix/m). According to this measure, for example, you need 250 pixels/m to identify an unknown person, regardless of how far the person is from the camera. In practice, many other factors also influence the actual usefulness of the video material, such as photosensitivity, dynamic response, image rate or bandwidth – and of course the infrastructure needed.
We thought long and hard about how to solve this problem, and finally we developed a completely different kind of camera technology, which has in fact been patented: the Panomera® multifocal sensor technology. Unlike conventional, single sensor cameras, multifocal sensor technology makes use of multiple sensors, each of which has a different focal distance. In this way, large expanses and distances can be covered and monitored from a single installation location – in real time and with constant picture resolution, good dynamic response, and unvarying depth of field.
Panomera also records the overall picture without interruption, so the operator does not have to worry that he will zoom to the wrong area just at the decisive moment, as is the case with PTZ cameras. He can carry out his tasks without stress, secure in the knowledge that the full range of zoom or analysis functions will also be available in the recordings subsequently.
Have you concentrated your interest on certain industries or projects over the years?
Our product portfolio has grown steadily over the last 30 years. These days, we offer total solutions from a single supplier, from image capture through recording to video management and intelligent video analysis.
All of our products can be used both for relatively small projects and for large installations in which several thousand cameras have to be connected to each other. Of course, the press reports more frequently on the large projects, they are just more spectacular and more interesting for the reader. But we also equip a very large number of smaller projects. Consequently, the markets we are active in are exceedingly diverse. They range from private residences or petrol stations to commercial and industrial premises, and on up to stadiums, seaports, airports, casinos and city surveillance to name just a few examples.
Complete solutions from a single supplier – this must make interfaces and integration quite complex?
Our video management solutions are platform-independent. With open interfaces, we give our customers the freedom to choose between “complete solutions from a single source” and “best of breed”, so they can create the optimum solution for any purpose. Both buying strategies also enable additional freedom to choose among hardware, software or virtualised solutions with the best possible option for integrating 3rd party systems.
In principle, each CCTV/IP solution from Dallmeier is designed such that it is able to function as an open platform for integrating third party systems. This way, the security systems by Dallmeier will also remain adaptable and upgradable for the long term, which consequently represents long-term investment security.
What will the future look like for Dallmeier?
Of course, I can’t predict the future. But I am looking forward to continue developing many new ideas, realising many new visions together with my wife Christina, my son Thomas and our employees, and creating cost-effective, practical solutions for video security technology.
Dallmeier has at its disposal more than 30 years of experience in transmission, recording as well as picture processing technology and is an outstanding pioneer of CCTV/IP solutions worldwide. This profound knowledge is used in the development of intelligent software and high quality recorder and camera technologies enabling Dallmeier to not only offer stand-alone systems, but complete network solutions up to large-scale projects with perfectly integrated components. Right from the beginning the company always focused on own innovative developments and highest quality and reliability. Dallmeier is the only manufacturer in Germany that develops and manufactures all components on its own. This includes the entire product range, from cameras to picture storage and transmission to intelligent video analysis and even individually adjusted management systems. Quality made by Dallmeier, made in Germany!
Over the years, Dallmeier has repeatedly given fresh impetus to the market with new developments and extraordinary innovations. The world’s first DVR for example, which introduced digital recording to the entire CCTV industry, came from Dallmeier. The multifocal sensor system Panomera® will have a similarly groundbreaking effect: This unique and novel camera technology will revolutionise the market and open up completely new possibilities to the video security industry. This and the extensive experience in the CCTV and IP field have led to a top position in the international market for digital video surveillance systems.