Why I went to the PSIA plugfest and not the ONVIF plugfest is a little unclear. I guess maybe it was because I knew when the PSIA plugfest was and was only sort of mildly aware of when the ONVIF plugfest was happening (it's true that I've called the "executive director" of ONVIF, based in San Ramon, Calif., at least three times and he's never called me back. That might have something to do with it). Anyway, if you're unfamiliar with the concept of the plugfest, or if it makes you feel a bit creepy, let me explain: Basically, people show up with their cameras, plug them into the NVR, and see if they work or not, based on the fact that everyone is writing to the same standard. In the case of the PSIA, they all worked, and it was pretty awesome. Truly, there was the feel that someone had just landed people on the moon or something. People were lining up for awkward photographs. Engineers with iffy social skills were drinking wine and wearing ill-fitting ties. People were clapping each other on the back. IBM's Frank Yeh, the sort of guy who puts his Second Life persona on his business card, was pronouncing: "We're witnessing history in the making here." And it felt like maybe he wasn't being bombastic. Here is a picture of what the plugfest looked like. Notice all the different cameras running into the NVR powered by Milestone. They're all connected via the same driver. You plug them in, they work. Pretty nice. "But everything works with Milestone," you say. Okay. Ever heard of Synectics? Me neither. But they showed up with an NVR, plugged in all the same cameras, and because they'd downloaded the specification and implemented it, when they plugged in all the same cameras, they all worked great. How do I know this is cool? I asked Ian Johnson, of IQinVision, and a PSIA active participant: "Who's Synectics?" Ian: "I have no idea." That's right, a random company downloaded the spec, implemented it, and then just showed up and made things work. Pretty cool. Johnson said the spec is already paying dividends. For the new 1080p camera IQ just released, IQ didn't have to call ahead to Milestone and make sure they had a driver ready for it. They just wrote to the spec and assumed it would work. And it did. Why do you, the integrator and installer, care? Well, because things are going to get cheaper and faster now. No longer is money going to be wasted on engineering to make sure one camera works with another piece of software, and that means that money can be lopped off the MSRP or it can be used to fuel new product innovation. Want to see what happy engineering guys look like? Here you go: It's very possible, and likely, the ONVIF plugfest was very similar. I just wasn't there.