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Swiss company's top tech makes airports more secure

Fast specialises in digital security recording systems for a wide range of applications, including homes and businesses

(source: Fast)

FAST media integrations AG, a vendor of innovative digital video recording systems used in security applications, raised SFr2.9 million in growth capital from German investors this month.

The eight-year-old Rotkreuz company attracted venture capital from Cornerstone Capital and DPI, the private equity holding company of Germany's Pfister family. The SFr2.9 million (€2 million) is to be used by FAST media integrations to ramp up infrastructure to handle the demand for its Digital Video Recording systems used in the closed circuit TV security systems.

The company develops products that are found at London's Heathrow and Stansted airports. The Euratom Safeguards Office monitors its nuclear facilities with FAST equipment, as do many Las Vegas casinos. It also licenses and places its technology in equipment manufactured by industry giants, such as Mitsubishi and Siemens.

FAST's traditional market has suddenly grown in the past few months to include other public places where closed circuit TV systems are being installed, such as underground railway systems, tunnels, and so on.

The increasing use of surveillance cameras in public places is driven by events such as the September 11 attacks.

From analog to digital

The surveillance industry began to switch to DVR in 2000 because it offers a tremendous number of advantages over the old analog systems. Because digital signals can be compressed so that remote surveillance is enabled in real time over data communications networks. FAST's CEO, Beat Meier, points out that his company's equipment work over the increasingly ubiquitous and cheaper IP networks. Not all DVR systems are Internet enabled.

The playback features are also better in digital systems - no need to rewind or remove tapes. In addition, the quality of the video, which was poorer than analog in the early days is improving all the time.

Meier says the tiny Swiss company stays ahead of the competition by delivering higher quality video and audio in equipment at a lower cost and in a smaller package than the competition. These are typical ways that Swiss companies compete internationally.

FAST's end-user price per MPEG-2 Encoder channel (real-time audio and video) is about SFr1,500 and its number one competitor, Philips, price is about SFr4,200 (2.8 times higher). FAST has yet to lose a tender bid against the Dutch electronics giant, according to Meier.

by Valerie Thompson

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