Assessing DIY Surveillance Cameras for Home Security
Tevin Wang | Date:
- Video quality is crucial, especially if an intrusion takes place and video footage is needed for investigative and evidentiary purposes
- Smartphones, is prompting people to consider and connect to security services
- By utilizing cloud video services for home security, the home video surveillance market will increase
Surveillance cameras specifically designed for homeowners or small business did not exist in the past. However, “things are changing right now with the advances in IT and IP, which enable people to remotely view video from any location, at significantly lower price points,” said said Joseph Cheng, GM for China, Edimax Technology.
Some catalysts in play include growing availability o f DIY camera kits in retail outlets and the emergence of consumer-grade surveillance cameras. “The concept of ‘bringing your own devices (BYOD),' especially smartphones, is prompting people to consider and connect to security services,” said Jason Yeh, PM at Micronet Communications.
Mobile apps and cloud-based services would allow consumers to keep an active eye on their homes and even businesses wherever and whenever they are. By utilizing cloud video services for home security, the home video surveillance market will increase substantially over the coming years, according to IMS Research. Lower prices and better features and functionality would also be important drivers.
DIY Surveillance Cameras Overview
Webcams are designed for video phones and videoconference stations, while DIY surveillance cameras are for monitoring and webcasting. Video quality is crucial, especially if an intrusion takes place and video footage is needed for investigative and evidentiary purposes, said Yeh. “The components used and performance outcomes are definitely superior to webcams.”
“Lenses, image sensors, processors or even PoE ports used in DIY surveillance cameras are better than those in webcams, and these differences are directly reflected in prices,” Yeh said. For instance, most lenses in webcams are made of plastic while DIY cameras are of glass. “DIY surveillance cameras are capable of operating 24/7, and are more durable than webcams which tend to have overheating and life cycle issues.”
Chipsets within DIY cameras, on the other hand, are fully capable of image processing on their own, said Tom Shih, CTO of Planet Technology. Settings, such as brightness, contrast, sharpness, white balance, back-light compensation and digital zooming, are also more comprehensive. “DIY surveillance cameras allow for more subtle adjustments,” said Cheng. Some products feature basic remote-adjustment capability.
Bandwidth consumption could be another issue, with too many connected devices sharing limited bandwidth resources. DIY cameras are designed with different options in frame rate, compression and bit rate settings, allowing users to strike their own balance between bandwidth and image resolution.
While DIY units are gaining market traction, finding the right mix of features and components at a reasonable price still remains a challenge. “The consumer market in general is price-sensitive,” Cheng said. DIY camera users, in most cases, do not necessarily need the resolution offered by professional digital or surveillance cameras. “Most manufacturers adopt fixed lenses, to compete in the marketplace.”
Easy Does IT
“Installation and configuration issues have been largely addressed. The emphasis is not only on plug-and-play locally but also plug-and-view remotely,” said Cheng. As more people adopt wireless networks in their homes, wireless cameras would also contribute more to the growth. “Priorities should be placed on developing the best user interface, experience and support,” said Simon Carr, Commercial Director for Y-Cam Solutions.
Hans Chang, PM of Compro Technology agreed. “We've found that users in some regions don't like to read user manuals. ‘Good' DIY surveillance systems must have simple instructions along with intuitive GUIs, instead of layers of menu items.”
Markets are Booming but Varied
Economic instability and social unrest boost security, and a real-life example would be Europe. According to IMS Research, the European consumer and DIY video surveillance equipment market is at a value of around US$100 to $ 150 million, forecast to grow at a similar rate to the Americas market.
“In Western Europe and Scandinavia, end users are more demanding of video quality and completeness of product features,” said Chang. “Features like digital zooming, day/night, PTZ, motion sensor and two-way audio are quite popular.”
Cheng seconded it. “In Europe and North America, customers focus more on high-end, feature rich cameras; in Asia, we're quite optimistic about the emerging Chinese market.”