By: Don McClatchie

Most everyone working with CCTV installations today are aware of the On Screen Display technology built into DVRs and NVRs to allow alpha-numeric overlays on a video monitor to identify camera numbers or time/date information.

There is a new application of this technology that allows the user to type a custom message on the video screen and then turn it on or off at will with the use of external switches. As many as ten separate messages up to 25 characters per line can be typed on ten different lines and each line is independently switchable on or off the screen. This allows the customer to display emergency messages or instructions for monitor personnel under the control of alarm switches or any external contacts.

This is a new way to deliver alarm, alert or instructional information to the monitor personnel in a way that is sure to get their attention and speed response. This type of alarm alert message is more intuitive than a simple alarm bell because it displays the source of the alert. Since this video On Screen Display device adds the text to the video it will be recorded along with the video so you can go back and view the video and see the alerts as they were displayed in time sequence.

One of the advantages of recording messages in response to external contacts is that you can see what’s happening on the video when the contacts are active and since the contact switch causes the video screen to change it will also activate the DVRs motion recording system. So if the door with the contact is opened, a message will appear on the screen and the DVR will start recording.

Also public monitors used for video information or entertainment can be overlaid with emergency exit information or any other message to help with crowd control and keep the people informed with custom pro-programed text.

Here are a few examples of this technology at work:

The setting is a hospital with video monitors at the nurse’s station watching the halls and the patients. They need to know when the exit door is opened because sometimes the patients try to go out that door and they need to intervene when that happens. They also want to know when the drug cabinet is opened and since the video is time marked they can now record the exact time the cabinet is opened and closed and where the people are in the video at that time.

Another application has to do with a store that has a monitor at the cash register for the cashier to keep watch on the store. However the storage room has a back door that should remain closed except for deliveries. A contact on the door is used to display on the monitor if that door is opened without authorization. The door is out of the view of the CCTV cameras and yet it is being protected by the video on screen display. In this way you can use the video system to help protect areas outside of the view of the camera.

This low cost product is called VSA-10 and is available from FM SYSTEMS, INC. Call for more details at 1-800-235-6960 or



Use the included MINI KEYBOARD to customize your On screen message.

This unit brings the alarm contact activity right onto the monitor screen so you can see any alarm event at a glance and the bright lettering will attract your attention even out of the corner of your eye. With 25 characters on each of ten independently controlled screen message lines this product will cover just about any application you can think of, and more.