Homes

Dropcam makes home surveillance user-friendly

 | December 24, 2010

Video surveillance is a good tool for homeowners. If you want to install your own surveillance cameras, there are products like Dropcam allowing you to do just that.

A Dropcam camera can be accessed remotely and set up to broadcast streaming video using your existing wireless service. It’s compact (3.7 x 2.3 x 1.3 inches) and comes in two models: the regular Dropcam which only takes video and Dropcam Echo which also includes audio.

The product was developed by co-founders and software programmers Greg Duffy and Aamir Virani.

Compared to other do-it-yourself wireless cameras, Dropcam is very easy to setup.

“When we first started Dropcam, it was very important to us that the people who’ll use the product didn’t have to understand a bunch of networking technology or IP addresses or any of that complicated stuff that you normally have to understand if you set up a WiFi or a network device, so we made it really easy,” explained Greg Duffy, Dropcam’s CEO. “You plug it into your home router and the camera comes with an application code. When you go into the website and enter that application code, you can immediately see the video.”

What makes Dropcam ideal for remote monitoring is that it doesn’t need a computer to operate after the initial setup. All it needs is either an Ethernet or a WiFi connection to work. The only setback is that it needs to be constantly plugged in to a power outlet, has limited resolution (320 x 240), and doesn’t have the ability to pan, tilt or zoom.

Viewing your camera’s live stream is free on any computer, iPhone or Android phone. If you need video storage, the company also offers recorded video plans. You can choose between seven days of recorded video for $9 or 30 days for $25.

Nobody wants to scour through hours of video to check if somebody tried to break into your home. Dropcam can notify you by e-mail or send a push alert to your phone in real time if it detects motion or sound. Yellow dots on the live video stream’s timeline also make it easy to find clips where the camera detected movement or sound.

“We have a lot of people who use Dropcam in vacation homes. That’s a really popular usage right now,” said Duffy.

“We started getting stories from users who were using it for baby monitoring, pet monitoring, and in some cases, as an entertainment device,” Duffy said, adding that people have used it to see the view from their home or to monitor snow on the mountains.

“We’ve had a customer tell us that it was actually their baby Tivo. You can actually take clips from the recorded video and send it to your friends and family,” he added.

Dropcam currently ships in the US only, but they’re working to enable shipping to other countries. Dropcam (US$199) and Dropcam Echo (US$279) are available at www.dropcam.com or www.amazon.com.

If you’re looking for a user-friendly surveillance camera for your home that’s reasonably priced, then you may want to consider this product.

For more information, visit www.dropcam.com.

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