Safe and Secure
The market for smart security cameras is hot and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. For many consumers, a smart security camera is a core element of their smart home. It makes surveillance of a house and property possible, and mobile apps facilitate easy monitoring and alerts.
Inside-the-home monitoring has also become popular for monitoring of the elderly and children.
Numerous options are available on the market today, so how do you know which one is best for you? Let’s explore.
What to Look For in a Smart Camera
Consider whether you want a smart camera that relies on batteries or one that requires a power source.
A wireless device alleviates the need to run cables to difficult access areas. Conversely, batteries have a limited life and need periodic checking. Sometimes cameras have solar panels to recharge battery-powered units constantly.
Degree of Coverage
How much coverage do you need? You may have to hook up multiple cameras to monitor a variety of outdoor spaces or rooms. Some cameras can tilt or pan, so they cover more area than a static camera.
A camera must have good resolution for you to receive clear images. Recording and streaming at full HD resolution means you can zoom in on footage.
A variety of cameras have night vision and/or motion-activated floodlights. If you’re concerned about intruders, you need this capability.
Some cameras have microphones to capture sound. Others can capture and emit sound.
Many security cameras have WiFi capability which means you can them integrate with smart home systems enabling you to remotely lock your doors, control your lights, etc. Some even have apps that allow you to send text or email alerts and view live streams. All you need is the bandwidth to support all of this.
More expensive smart cameras have facial recognition and even respond to voice commands. Some allow you to program “activity zones” allowing you to focus in on a specific area and ignore others.
Some cameras have microSD cards, but most of them don’t store footage, relying on cloud storage instead. The amount of time for storing footage varies, and you may have to pay a subscription fee for cloud service which you should take into account when considering the price.
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Four of the Most Popular Smart Cameras
The smart security camera field is currently dominated by brands like D-Link, Nest, Arlo and Ring. Many of the models are easy to install and use, offering clear HD video, two-way audio, night vision, and local or cloud-based recording.
The Netgear Arlo Pro 2
The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 is very versatile as it can be used indoors and outdoors. You’ll enjoy crystal clear images with a 1080p HD resolution, and it has plug-in and wire-free capabilities. It comes with advanced motion detection and the option to scroll back for three seconds before an event occurred.
A built-in microphone and speaker provide two-way audio, and you can communicate via your smartphone. A free app is available for iPhone and Android devices. Your footage is safe and accessible with the provision of local and free cloud storage.
The only disadvantage is that this camera is on the pricey side. You must purchase a base station as well as the camera which makes the up-front cost more than that of other cameras. The base station or central hub connects all your cameras which use Z-Wave to communicate wirelessly, rather than WiFi. The base station communicates with your home’s WiFi network.
If you’re looking for a security camera that gives you control but doesn’t require much fiddling, the Netatmo Welcome could be the best option for you. This camera is unobtrusive and easy to set up – people aren’t even aware that it’s a security camera.
Video storage is free, and privacy is respected because nothing more than a backup screenshot is sent to the cloud. You pay for the camera, and that is it – there are no monthly subscription costs.
It’s designed with facial recognition software that creates personalized user profiles. You can easily monitor who comes in and out of your house. You’ll also get alerts when family members return home.
If the camera detects an intruder, you receive a notification with a picture of a face. It also provides 1080p HD resolution and has superior night vision. Video storage is flexible and free.
Nest Cam IQ Indoor
This stand-alone security camera for indoor use is compact, and installation is easy. Place the Nest Cam IQ Indoor on a flat surface, attach it to a wall or use the magnet to stick it to a metallic surface.
It offers 1080p HD resolution, an 8X digital zoom feature, a 130-degree field of view and has a night vision range of up to 50 feet. A built-in speaker and microphone offer two-way audio and the companion app allows you to monitor your home from anywhere, sending you updates and emails.
This smart camera comes with a built-in Google Assistant for seamless integration with the Nest home automation suite. It does require a broadband internet connection with an upload speed of at least 2 mbps.
The two disadvantages are that it does not have pan or tilt capabilities and it is expensive. You need a Nest Aware subscription to access advanced features such as facial recognition.
Ring Floodlight Cam
Ring offers a variety of security products, but their security cameras in particular are sure to make you feel safe. The Floodlight Cam is meant for outdoor use and only takes 5-10 minutes to install by way of a mount on a wall or ceiling.
The system uses 270-degree, 30-foot motion detection zones which you can customize. As soon as motion is detected, two 3000-degree Kelvin floodlights turn on, the camera begins streaming 1080p HD video, and a notification is sent to your phone, tablet and PC. You’ll then have the option to see, hear and speak to anyone on camera. To further deter suspicious persons, you’ll be able to activate a 110-decibel siren.
You’ll need an internet connection with a minimum upload speed of 1 mbps.
Additionally, if you want to be able to save the video, you’ll need to upgrade to a Ring Protect Plan. This will enable you to share videos with friends, family, neighbors and law enforcement. The Basic Plan starts at $3 per month, per device.
Advances in Smart Security Cameras
Many of the smart security cameras on the market are very good at surveillance but fall short of interpreting the images they capture. Repeated, annoying false alerts are one of the disadvantages.
Advances in the field include using more sophisticated technology to “see” and recognize 3D objects as well as using artificial intelligence and natural language to send more useful notifications to smartphone apps. For example, you can find out if an elderly parent has entered or left a room at a specific time or when your kids come home from school.
Another innovative approach is to use WiFi-based motion detection unlike traditional sensors that use heat or light to detect motion. This way of detecting motion is purported to limit false alerts. As it’s not video-based, it offers more privacy, and as it leverages other WiFi devices in the home, it’s less expensive.
The smart home security camera market is likely to be disrupted over the next few years as products evolve. These new products will be able to provide intelligent alerts on the activities they “see,” providing greater security potential for homes, schools and businesses.