Integrated Surveillance Camera & Control Keyboard, Japan & Denmark (1994 & 1996)

Integrated surveillance camera & keyboard

Ernitec(DK) & TAMRON(JP) -System-X ICU, integrated surveillance camera & keyboard

The small Danish company Ernitec provides surveillance systems to the European market.

In the early 90′s they had developed a close relationship with the Japanese supplier of the video lenses TAMRON , a supplier of high quality lenses to global camera and video manufacturers.

Ernitec offered specialised solutions, had a strong niche, a small manufacture of their own surveillance cameras (with lenses from Tamron) and good digital system development capabilities.

 Tamron had two business areas, one OEM and the other OBM, based on their high quality ODM optical lenses systems. Their biggest turnover was in OEM. In this area, they were now delivering high-resolution compact zoom lenses to the big names in video cameras. Based on this highly successful new technology they wished to develop complete products in their own name.


A good starting point would be a niche product for the professional market, so in 1994 they approached Ernitec with a plan to collaborate to create a surveillance camera for the global market. In turn, Ernitec asked us to design a zoom camera and pan-tilt mechanism suitable for serial production. The functionality and specifications from Tamron were vague and Ernitec were very open to new ideas, so they left the concept development up to us.

Surveillance is a service system in which the camera is the only terminal visible to the public, making it the main carrier of Brand Identity. Thinking in terms of systems rather than single products or components we came up with what was, at that time, a unique functional synthesis. Thinking in terms of user-focused services and experiences, the concept expressed a neat but strong visual statement. Ernitec named this extremely compact complete system solution “ICU” which in technical jargon meant an Integrated Camera Unit, and in marketing jargon meant, “I See You”.

Contrasting strongly with competing technical products the camera was conceived as an active element in an architectural setting. The pan-tilt function enables the organic elliptical forms to twist and turn in a continuous series of co-ordinated movements, like a dance. When we presented the design model to Tamron, the department manager summed up this very un-Japanese design with the simple phrase: “Elegance in Motion”. Having truly understood the core-concept, they adopted the ideas and loyally manufactured the ICU exactly as designed.


After launching the ICU globally in 1996, the next task was to build Brand Identity at the other end of the user chain, where the professional user accesses the surveillance service system through a control terminal. Like the camera, the keyboard is the main user element associated with an otherwise invisible system. This area was exclusively that of Ernitec, who now commissioned a keyboard for their new System-X.

Here again, we chose to accentuate the brand design by synthesising the component elements into a total user concept that created not only an excellent functionality, but also a strong user experience. To this end, we conceived a user terminal with the same design philosophy and syntax as the camera. The resulting form integrated a dedicated keyboard, a system display and a joystick into a single organic functionality. As with the camera, production numbers would be relatively small.

We wanted to simplify and rationalise parts, manufacture, testing and service. All electronics, including the display, were mounted onto a single print board in its own casing. This unit could be tested separately before product assembly and easily replaced during field service. The membrane-switch keyboard and joystick simply plug into the base of the display-module as it is mounted onto the casing.

User-friendliness was, as always, a major consideration. The keyboard layout was carefully designed to integrate programming functions and camera-choices. To enable simultaneous pan-tilt and zoom, focus and contrast functionality we chose the joystick to be operated by the right hand and the keys by left. The organic shape creates a soft physical interface to the hand.

As the product has a very strong physical identity, we decided that colouring should be simple. We suggested that the main housing be the same neutral grey as the camera, and the keys blue, but left it to the marketing team to determine the final hue.

The Ernitec System X surveillance-camera and system-control terminal was launched worldwide in Spring 2001.

Integrated Surveillance Camera & Keyboard,全面性監視器系統,日本Tamron科技& 丹麥Ernitec 科技 Integrated Surveillance Camera & Keyboard,全面性監視器系統,日本Tamron科技& 丹麥Ernitec 科技 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.