September 24, 2010
Smarter Home Alarm Systems, Part #4 – Wireless Security Cameras!
Wireless home video, accessible from anywhere, is a hot topic in the FrontPoint Smarter Home Alarm Systems series. Nothing beats “being there,” and that’s exactly what video surveillance can do for you. We’ve gotten smart together about remote control (arming/disarming), notifications (text & email), and even apps for your iPhone, B’Berry or Droid device – so it’s time to focus on cameras.
Smart home security providers have made interactive video an affordable and easy component of protecting your home and family. These are powerful security cameras you can access (and control) from anywhere. Watch the kids or pets, keep an eye on contractors, connect with family (military families love this), and be in the know if there is suspicious activity around your home. Place a camera to keep tabs on specific rooms or areas. Some of our customers point an indoor camera out an exterior window to see who comes to your front door, or monitor the driveway or backyard.
What Can Home Video Do?
Historically, video was centered more on reviewing recorded tapes than live viewing. Anyone remember VCR’s?! These days cheap memory, faster processors, and the Internet have changed the game: video storage is still important, but today we use DVR’s (Digital Video Recorders) to hold terabytes of data. Imagine 1,000 copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica – or 300 hours of high quality video – and that’s a terabyte. The more important shift, though, is toward live video viewing. Now think Skype, since you’re viewing what’s happening in your home real-time. I use my BlackBerry app and our home cameras to check out the inside and outside from time to time – yup, someone did remember to bring in those deck cushions!
Now add video analytics. The same technology in high-security cameras that identifies fixed objects that were taken, or suspicious objects suddenly placed in empty locations, is available to you today. These cameras sense motion, and create a video clip and send it to you real-time, as well as storing it at a remote site where you can retrieve it later. Hey, the kids just got home from school – but who is that with them? If I want to see more, I log in to view for as long as I want. And I get to control the privacy - only I can see the clips or live video.
Hardware ranges from simple low-cost web cams to higher-end cameras and systems that can cost thousands of dollars. Also, video is usually sent over the Internet, so you’ll need a broadband connection to use your set up. For the best video coverage, look for systems that offer wireless video cameras and the ability to view live video (and motion-activated video clips) on-line or on your mobile device. Indoor cameras are usually wireless, so they send video through your home Wi-Fi and over the Internet – they just need to be plugged in for power. The good ones are color, with a high-resolution image and low-light operation. Look for fixed cameras with a wide-angle lens, and even “pan & tilt” models that you control remotely, even from your iPhone. Outdoor cameras tend to be hard-wired (and powered over the Ethernet connection), and are often infra-red equipped for operation in complete darkness. These cameras don’t have to be expensive, and neither do the services that support them, but only the alarm providers who specialize in next-generation, wireless home security will have what you want.
Great Video Stories
Every week FrontPoint receives more great stories from our customers about how their cameras solved a mystery, or gave them greater peace of mind. One my favorites is from upstate New York, where a customer was able to record the license plate of the car driven by deer poachers trespassing on her property – with a camera pointed out the front window. Another customer had footage of his neighbor “borrowing” some presents left by UPS on the customer’s front porch just before Christmas. And that’s just a sample of how these products can be used. So set up your FrontPoint cameras, and roll ‘em!