Friday, February 03, 2006

What To Watch For In 06: The CCTV Implosion

If you read my little take on 2005 then you know that one of the top stories was the fall and rise of Telesensory. A byproduct of the TSI saga is just now being felt by the industry. At ATIA more than six new CCTV units were shown openly or behind closed doors. And, of course, Freedom Scientific announced it’s plans to enter the field in December 05. The crazy thing is that most of these units are just a duplication of what already exists in the market today. But who can blame a company for taking advantage of a market leader’s absence? Well almost absence now that TSI is somewhat back.

The fastest growing area of CCTV growth comes in the mid line category of Portable Units. This generally is considered the 7 to 10 inch display at around $1,500 to $2,000 price point by the way. This category has been mostly the domain to units like the Olympia, the Traveler and the Flipper Panel over the years but now even those units are seeing competition from their own manufacturers.

Freedom Vision [Ash Technologies], who offers the Liberty, is working on a unit that will replace the Liberty Solo 7 inch display. Enhanced Vision has the Amigo which is a mid line unit that offers a more compact unit than the Flipper series. And again Freedom Scientific has their own entry into this category if you read up on the Topaz and Opal lines.

Then there is the whole new explosion of Laptop Assisted products. Here are the ones I have seen..

Optelec Clear Note
Low Vision International’s Magnalink series
Clarity’s PC Mate
ABISee’s Mousvision Zoom EX

And that’s not including Enhanced Vision’s ability to use the Smart Video accessory with the Acrobat or Flipper. In other words there’s more than I am listing here.

The question becomes now how many people can possibly buy these units and how many units is too much for the market to sustain? And if you’re a CCTV dealer just when does the pressure to move one line over another begin? Okay so there’s more than one question on the table, however, the big one will always be which one will a person buy when there are so many choices available?

The general phasing out of products has already begun. Optelic bit the bullet last year and ended the traditional Clearview series in favor of their modular units. Vision Technologies is in the process of doing the same all be it that their equipment is lighter and somewhat cheaper feeling overall [solely my opinion on that one]. Some out there now have to abandon older units in favor of having these better and cheaper units in the pipeline. So now the EBay factor shows it’s ugly head. There begins to be a gray market, a used market and the new market in what is essentially a nitch market.

Oh sure the Government Rehab Agencies and the Veterans Administration buy many of the new units. In fact Government and Education make up most of the sales out there. But there is a large contingent of people who buy privately. And for them their only exposure to this technology may come from the Eye Doctor’s office. But we keep coming back to the questions above. Is the aging population large enough to buy all these darn CCTV units? Or is an Arizona land fill destined to house more Traveling Executives and Meva IIs over the next five years.

The rambling point of this entry is that watching the sheer number of participants throwing good money into the fray just to bolster their portfolio of offerings will diminish the industry as a whole. The rush to take a foothold in the TSI vacuum may just be the undoing for some. My hope is that someone will always build a better mousetrap, however, my belief is that there may be too much of a diluted market out there already for that person to make any money on the thing.

Now if you excuse me I have to go and count the ever growing numbers of Hand Held CCTV units lying around the office.


Lena said...

Hi, Ranger
I saw your comment about Zoom-Ex - a product from ABISee.
Now Zoom-Ex is the fastest scanner/reader on the market. Place any printed text under the camera, press one key and it will start reading in 3-5 seconds. You can save the 8 by 11 page as text or image. Sounds too good tobe true - check yourself! It was demonstrated at NFB convention in front of 200 blind students and the reaction was - WOW!

Lena said...

Hi, Ranger
I found that you mentioned Zoom-Ex a product from ABISEE.
Today Zoom-Ex is the fastest scanner and reader on the market. Place an old paper-back book under the camera, click one key and it will start reading in 3-5 seconds.