A quarter-century of innovation

A quarter-century of innovation

Axis Communications, a leader in security and network solutions, is celebrating a major milestone this year. It has been 25 years since the company invented and launched the first network camera – the AXIS NetEye 200 Network Camera.

“It all started while I was on a business trip to Tokyo,” explains Martin Gren, the cofounder of Axis. “I was there to meet potential clients, one of whom had analogue cameras in stock that he was battling to sell. He knew that Axis had experimented with technology that made networks smarter and asked if it was possible to attach them to a network.”

Gren saw the potential in combining the two technologies and an idea began to form. This idea began to become a reality when he discovered that engineer Carl-Axel Alm was developing a prototype of a network-based video conference system. This hardware was repurposed and used to create the first network camera.

The revolutionary camera was launched in 1996. The team isn’t 100% sure who bought the first unit, but as one of the early purchasers, Steve Wozniak – Apple’s cofounder – made the first support call.

Identifying and meeting future needs

Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about the AXIS 200 Network Camera is that it was designed simply because it could be. The initial launch had its challenges, with people often misunderstanding the invention and assuming that it was merely a cheap webcam. However, as Axis started attending trade shows and exhibiting the camera’s capabilities, its qualities became clear.

As interest in the camera increased, the team knew they had built an industry-disrupting product. This led to the development of the industry’s first dedicated chip for network cameras, the Axis Real Time Picture Encoding Chip (ARTPEC), which enabled the camera business’s rapid growth, as cameras were now ready for real-time, reliable video surveillance.

Determined to succeed

“It is incredible to see what can result when people are given the freedom and support to innovate. Network cameras came from two simple ideas that merged, changing the landscape of the surveillance market forever,” says Ettiene Van Der Watt, regional director of Axis Communications Middle East & Africa. “Nobody, not even the inventors, could have imagined where this would lead 25 years later, but they pursued the project relentlessly because they believed in it and loved what they did.”

The team believes that quitting was never an option despite the difficulties they faced. They are proud that they created a new division within Axis that provides a platform for experimentation and idea formation – a critical component of their success.

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