One of the ten biggest innovations in home security over the past decade is the development of functional and affordable video services. Europe is said to be ahead of the US in this regard, but we’re catching up – fast. One telling indicator is the explosive growth in video product and service providers. I can tell when I attend our alarm industry trade shows, where they now allocate entire sections to the video suppliers.
What Can Video Do?
Video service (or CCTV, as we used to call it, short for “Closed Circuit TeleVision”) was traditionally a high-end application, and centered as much on recording and review of tapes as live viewing. Remember those VCR’s?! The Internet and the digital age changed all that: video storage is still important, and today we use DVR’s (Digital Video Recorders) to hold terabytes of data. If that’s a new term, think of 1,000 copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica – or 300 hours of good quality video – and that’s a terabyte. The more important shift, though, is toward live video viewing. Now think Skype, except you are viewing what’s going on 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 cushions off the deck furniture! It’s all part of feeling connected to your home.
Now add in video analytics – all the rage these days. The same technology that allows high security cameras to identify fixed objects that were removed, or suspicious objects suddenly added where there was nothing before, is available to you today. These cameras can sense motion: when they do, they 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, and download it later. You can even program the camera to ignore motion in specified portions of the frame. 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 control the privacy: only I can see the clips or video.
How About the Cameras?
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 not every alarm company offers them. You will have more luck with the alarm providers who specialize in next-generation, wireless home security – which is not the “big boys” that usually spring to mind.
Great Video Stories
FrontPoint Security is one of the leading nationwide providers of these video products and services, as part of our suite of interactive services that includes remote arm/disarm, special apps, text and email notifications, and soon even “smart home” control of locks, lights, and thermostat. Every week we receive more great stories from our customers about how their FrontPoint cameras solved a mystery, or gave them greater peace of mind. One my favorites is the customer from upstate New York, who was able to record the license plate of the car driven by trespassers who were poaching deer 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 camera and get ready to roll – we’ll keep an eye out for you!