webcam, security camera, geckoeye

3 New Crowdfunded Video Security Cameras For Your Smart Home (and Car)

The Smart Home is going mainstream, part of the broader Internet of Things trend of  increasing  billions of Internet-connected/smart devices and sensors  that communicate with each other, the cloud, and people (in the case of consumers, via smartphone and Web apps and text messages). Popular examples of Smart Home devices include the Nest Learning Thermostat, Dropcam Security Camera, Hue Light Bulbs, and WeMo switches. These devices can connect directly to the Internet via your home WiFi network (as is the case with all of the cameras in this post), or can connect to each other and the Internet via Hubs like SmartThings which typically employ a low-power RF network such as ZigBee or Z-Wave out to the sensors.

There are three clever new crowdfunded smart home security cameras that have been in the news lately that have advanced physical designs and unique features beyond the “table stakes” features  listed below that are found in Dropcam (often considered the reference for smart home security cameras particularly after being acquired by Google/Nest for $555M in June) and other popular home security cameras. Dropcam has many more features and capabilities than those listed below including  Two-Way TalkZoom,  Time Scanner,  Custom Activity Zones as well as Tabs and People Detection).

Table Stakes Features available on most smart home video security/surveillance/monitoring cameras:

  • Fast and easy DIY setup
  • Web and smartphone apps for camera control and monitoring
  • motion and sound triggered alerts (in-app push notifications, SMS, email)
  • remote live view (720p HD video streaming)
  • cloud video recording (Dropcam streams continuously to the cloud, does all analysis (e.g. motion/sound detection) in the cloud, and charges $10-$30/month depending on size of CVR (cloud video recorder)
  • 107 – 130 degree field of view (wide angle)
  • encrypted video
  • night vision/IR

The three clever newcomers are in the pre-availability phase (some further out than others). Let’s take a look at three which have been featured in the last 30 days on popular tech websites, and highlight the new things (“Cleverness Cred”)  that they bring to the table that differentiates them from the  Table Stakes features above.

Here are the three clever new smart home video cameras in order of estimated delivery date / likelihood of shipping:

iSensor HD

Availability status: Exceeded goal on IndieGogo. Ends Aug 30th. Estimated Delivery: Sept 2014

Price: $99 limited time early-adopter special ($160 MSRP), free worldwide shipping

Techsite review: GeekyGadget

Cleverness Cred:

  • uses Skype for 256-bit video encryption (compare to Dropcam 128-bit), low latency video ( (sub 0.5 second), remote camera pan control, and push picture alerts
  • built-in motor and gears for remote panning (180 degrees) on top of 60 degree lense for 240 degree view
  • compact cylindrical form factor (shorter than an iPhone 5, less than 2″ diameter)
  • USB power for more placement options
  • embedded microSD for local video storage if no WiFi available
  • intruder warning light and beeper
  • Configurable to continuously upload video to the cloud, only when motion/sound is detected, or disabled
  • 15GB free cloud video storage on Google Drive
  • no image curvature distortion, fish-eye lense free

Note: iSensor HD does not have night vision/IR – it does have a “super bright white LED for use at nighttime.”

Blink

Availability status: Exceeded goal on KickStarter. Ends Sept 14th. Estimated Delivery: May 2015

Price: $69 in USA, $99 outside ($30 shipping)

Tech Site Review: TechCrunch

Cleverness Cred:

  • no power plug-in required for placement pretty much anywhere – camera has a replaceable battery that lasts for >1 year and operates on “ultra-low power mode” and is woken up when needed by the  required Sync Module (which does have to be plugged in)
  • temperature sensor and temperature-triggered alerts
  • LED light and optional beep warning
  • free cloud storage (no monthly fees) – up to  5 days/120 hours, then overwritten
  • records video only when motion is detected
  • USB port on Sync Module for local video storage
  • optional battery-powered 105 dB siren Alarm Unit  ($25 for Kickstarter backers, $50 MSRP)

Note: Blink does have IR/night vision.

GeckoEye

Availability Status: 14% of goal on IndieGogo.  Ends Sept 21st. Estimated Delivery: N/A

Price: $189 (shipping not specified)

Techsite review: Digital Trends

Cleverness Cred:

  • camera battery is solar powered  – no power plug required for placement pretty much anywhere
  • double-sided HD cameras so you can see what’s happening in front of and behind the camera
  • compact 1.7″ hockey puck-like form factor
  • Required base station does require power plug-in,  but also has 240-hour battery making it portable for temporary use as a car DVR
  • base station has a SIM card slot for cloud recording while mobile (in a car)
  • can be mounted on basically any surface  (including a car windshield) using supplied sticky tape
  • 128 GB onboard memory for local video storage if no WiFi available
  • 50GB free cloud video storage
  • GPS tracker

Note: GeckoEye does not appear to have night vision/IR support.

Let us know if you’ve already contributed to any of these projects, if you’re thinking about it,  or if you’re planning on going with a more established smart home camera from the likes of  Dropcam, D-Link, Belkin, Foscam, or Samsung. Or if you’re planning on using an old smartphone as a security camera with an app like Gotya for Android and Windows Phone or Manything for iPhone.

Featured Image courtesy of Geeky Gadgets

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nokia lumia 800, windows phone 7

In praise of older smartphones – unlike Skype, Gotya continues to support Windows Phone 7

Microsoft recently announced that Windows Phone 7 users will no longer be able to use Skype  “within the next few weeks”.  Not just discontinuing updates, bug fixes, or support, but terminating use altogether – not allowing sign-ins from Windows Phone 7 devices.

According to data from AdDuplex published on WMPoweruser, there are still 8-10 million active Windows Phone 7 users out there.

In contrast to the Skype decision, we here at Gotya are all about supporting older smartphones by enabling consumers to turn them into connected motion detection cameras for a near-free, portable DIY security and surveillance system.

Gotya supports and will continue to support Windows Phone 7. If you’re a WP7 user or  if you have upgraded to WP 8/8.1 and have your old WP7 device (like a Lumia 800, the first-ever WP7 Nokia Lumia from November, 2011)  lying around doing nothing, turn it into a near-free motion detection camera with remote snapshots and alerts with Gotya. And, you can use your current WP8/8.1 device as a remote control for your Gotya WP7 motion detection camera!

WP7 users and device owners, we got your back.

android, multitasking, nexus 7

Get immediate sound alerts when motion is detected on Android even when running in the background

Android is known for being the most open of all the mobile O/S, which means that developers have access to some APIs that can do more and/or have fewer restrictions than the corresponding API on other platforms.

An example of this is background processing. In a multi-tasking environment, the user has multiple apps open and is switching back and forth between them, a very common scenario with modern smartphones.  Only one app can be in the foreground at any given time, with all the other open apps  in the background. The Featured Image shows four open apps on my Nexus 7 – Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and Gotya.

When Gotya for Android is running in the background, it can still listen continuously for (and process) events from the Gotya Cloud Service (GCS). For the Gotya user, this means that with the Gotya Remote Control running in the background, audio alerts are immediately played on the device just like they are when it’s running in the foreground. This is of great benefit because Gotya is “always-on”, listening for motion alerts and then proactively sounding them as soon as they are received. This saves the user from having to bring the Remote Controller to the foreground to check on any alerts that might have been triggered while Gotya was in the background (which is the case with Windows Phone).

Background processing on Android means the user can “set it and forget it” – open the Gotya Remote Control, then go about their daily business using the apps on their device as they normally do, with Gotya always listening for alerts from GCS. If something moves, you’ll hear the audio alert immediately and then you can bring the Remote Controller to the foreground to see pictures of what’s happening. With Windows Phone, you would still see all the picture alerts when you bring Gotya back to the foreground – nothing is missed – but you wouldn’t hear the audio alert instantly like you do with Android.  Of course, if the Gotya Remote Control is running in the foreground on both Android and Windows Phone, then you’ll immediately hear and see pictures of the motion alerts.