Home Security 101: Interactive Video Services

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In our Monday series we’ve covered a lot of topics already, including the following:

We’ve also talked about the way alarm systems have evolvedto do much more than just help protect your home and family. This previous post introduced several of the ways that smarter advanced interactive services let you feel not just protected, but connected, too.

  • Remote arm & disarm of your system from a smart phone, tablet, or PC
  • Text or email notifications of events and conditions in your home: know what’s happening, even when your system is not armed
  • Intelligent home video that provides real-time live viewing and motion-activated video clips
  • Home automation for remote control of lights, locks, and even thermostats
  • Mobile apps for all the features listed above

Today we’ll cover the third topic: home video services.

Lots of Buzz about Home Video

Wireless home video, accessible from anywhere, is a hot topic in home securityNothing beats “being there,” and that’s exactly what video surveillance can do for you. The best home security providers have made interactive video an affordable and easy component of protecting your home and family. We’re talking about powerful security cameras you can access (and control) from anywhere.

Examples of How to Use Home Video

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 the front door, or to monitor the driveway or backyard.

What Can Home Video Do?

 Historically, video was more about 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.

Trend it Toward Live Video

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!

Smart Cameras Rule!

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 tocontrol the privacy – only I can see the clips or live video.

How About the Cameras?

Camera 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 & Outdoor

Indoor and outdoor cameras can be wireless, meaning they send video through your home Wi-Fi and over the Internet – they just need to be plugged in for power. The good cameras are color, with a high-resolution image and low-light (or even no-light) operation. Look for fixed cameras with a wide-angle lens, and even “pan & tilt” models that you control remotely, even from your iPhone.

Night Vision

Outdoor cameras 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 need and want.

Great Video Stories

I’ve reads some great stories from our customers over the years: accounts of how their FrontPoint 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.

Neighborhood Watch?

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. Make sure you consider smart home video features when it’s time to shop for your system.

Interactive Monitoring Alone is Not Enough

It’s also important to remember that the best systems today offer these interactive monitoring featuresin addition to the 24/7 “real” monitoring services offered by a dedicated response center. You want to know that there is someone being dispatched to your home – police, fire, or medical – when the need is there. And the best way to insure that level of response is with a professionally monitored system.

Home video is just one moreinteractive feature that you’ll want to include in your security system, and we’re happy to include this discussion in this series of educational posts. We still have a lot of tips and tricks to provide, and that’s what FrontPointis all about: sharing our experience, and our expertise. We hope you’ll ask plenty of questions when you are shopping for peace of mind. And you can always feel free to ask us – the more you know, the better! See you next Monday.

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