Polaroid gets into security surveillance

Led by Nathan Needel, Allan Markoff, Polaroid Professional Security Products offers full line of digital and analog solutions
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y.—Polaroid—a brand name with a rainbow logo that was synonymous with cameras for generations of Americans—on June 1 is launching a new security division called Polaroid Professional Security Products, headed by security industry veteran Nathan Needel.

The division, based here, is rolling out a full line of digital and analog cameras, plus NVRs, DVRs, hybrid DVRs, VMS solutions, as well as wire and cable. The company classifies its products as “enterprise-class solutions that are also cost effective for small, multi-location organizations.”

Needel told Security Systems News that the company will be “ready for prime time and anticipates making a sales push in July.” 

“We’re looking for integrators that are savvy on the network side,” he said. “But we don’t see analog going away, so we’re launching a full line of analog cameras.” Needel said he was surprised when independent research showed the market for analog cameras will not be going away any time soon.

Needel, who will be executive vice president and COO of the new security division, has worked in the security industry for 25 years. Most recently he was with Infinova. Before that, Needel worked for DSC. He left DSC after it was acquired by Tyco.

Allan Markoff will serve as president and CEO of Polaroid’s security business. He is founder and president of New York Security Systems. The new company will “leverage Markoff’s … professional relationships with the very best partners to provide local and national accounts with the highest quality combination of Polaroid products and training,” according to a company statement.

So how is the Polaroid Corporation today related to the company launched in Massachusetts in 1937? It’s a descendent of sorts.  That original company ran into financial trouble in the 1990s when it did not embrace digital photography and subsequently went bankrupt. Today Polaroid is owned by Minnesota-based PLR IP Holdings, parent company of several different, mostly consumer business divisions that manufacture and sell flat screen television displays, instant cameras and high definition camcorders, among a variety of other products.

As an independent division of Polaroid, the new Polaroid Professional Security Products (PPSP) is owned by PRD International, a holding company made up of venture capital investors and other investors.

In the works for the past 18 months, Polaroid’s move into security coincides with the company’s continued expansion of consumer electronics products, Needel said.

Down the road, it’s possible that PPSP could work with another Polaroid division that does group access control cards and printers, Needel said.

PPSP had a soft launch at ISC West this year. It did not have a presence on the show floor at the Sands Convention Center, but executives were holding meetings and recruiting employees from a suite across the street at the Trump International Hotel

PPSP plans to employ an integrator-centric strategy for its dealer program, with regional sales managers and technical training managers offering CEU-accredited courses. Regional sales managers will hire and direct sales representatives who will administer their territories, selecting and managing Polaroid-certified integrators. Integrators’ territories will be protected.

Currently, PPSP has about 40 employees working from its headquarters here, “mostly product developers and engineers,” Needel said. The company will use a “rep firm model on the sales side,” which will add another 40 employees. Needel anticipates hiring another six or seven employees who will work directly for PPSP in a sales role.

The company is currently in the process of training more than 40 integrators, though Needel said the ceiling could be about 100 for North America.

In addition to its broad compatibility, a concerted focus on the many applications of video surveillance “from business intelligence to smoke detection, customer service improvement, [and] corporate policy enforcement” is shaping the product line conceptually. The idea, according to Needel, is that the surveillance products help customers produce “information, not just evidence, instantly.”

“It starts with thinking of the camera as a sensor,” Needel said. “When you come from that perspective, it completely changes the way you look at the problems you face.”

Polaroid’s beta projects include one at a major hotel chain, another at a museum in Sarasota, Fla. At the former, Polaroid’s surveillance cameras, deploying people-counting technology, were used to manage the number of people in front-desk queues.

At the latter, where museum personnel needed to track attendance numbers, Polaroid cameras were used for that purpose, replacing an intern who’d previously been assigned to the task.

“[Museum personnel] figured out that the human counter was about 85 percent accurate,” Needel says. “Our analytic counter was 98 percent accurate.”

Needel said PPSP will exhibit at the ASIS International trade show scheduled to take place in Chicago in September.