Since my wife and I purchased a small lake home in Michigan, I have started shopping at Cabela’s and the Bass Pro Shop for fishing, boating, and shooting equipment. I have been receiving catalogs and special flyers from these companies, along with others. I’m basically a city guy, but my male root relatives were outdoorsmen, to one degree or the other. My father told me interesting stories about the collection of out-of-season wildlife protein during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Unfortunately, I don’t have the option to discuss the finer points of hunting and fishing with my Dad, so I have to figure things out on my own.
I could tell you about my one-shot one-kill on a rogue ground hog, but this is SDM so let’s talk about security applications of some of the video devices that are used by hunters. Typically, a hunter will set up a food source (depending on state DNR laws) or locate a trail that has been used by target animals such as deer, and mount a “trail camera” to watch over the food pile and/or trail.
As a security dealer, how do you answer a customer who has had recent break-in problems who wants an outdoor video camera(s) NOW? Outdoor cameras have always been a complex installation, with power and connectivity requiring cabling to the camera, which greatly increases costs and the time it takes to get the camera(s) up and running. For your good customers, you would like to provide them with an immediate answer to their problem. Now is the time to take a look at using hunter’s trail cameras for security purposes.
I have been watching this technology change over the years and now I believe that these trail cameras can be used for outdoor video surveillance by our industry. Trail cameras have typically built-in IR and motion detection, and take individual photos when the motion is activated. In the old days the hunter would have to visit the trail cam, pull out the SD card, and view the images (time/date stamped) on a PC or laptop.
The coverage penetration of nationwide cellular networks has changed the game. Today’s trail cameras can be purchased with cellular connectivity, and the cameras transmit their images to a cloud server from which the owner/operator can pull down the images for review. And this cellular connectivity can be obtained at a very low cost — i.e., free from some camera vendors.
Take a look at the Spypoint Link Micro LTE (spypoint.com). This cellular equipped trail camera sells for less than $100 USD, and is packed with features. First, let’s consider the powering options. The camera can operate on AA batteries, a rechargeable battery pack that takes the place of the AA battery tray, a 12-volt DC battery, or an optional solar panel. Battery life will be affected by the outside temperatures and the quality of the images. The camera will report to the user’s smart phone if the batteries are getting weak.
On the video image side, the camera has many adjustable features for motion sensitivity and image quality. Keep in mind that these cameras take still images and store them on their local SD card, and will also transmit them to the Spypoint cloud servers. Authorized users can access the images using the proper app on their smart phone, which is also used for the initial programming of the camera. The cameras come pre-set for LTE cellular transmission of the images that are taken by the Link Micro.
From the instructions it appears that the setting up of these cameras for cellular connectivity is quite simple, with the user registering the specific camera with its serial number onto the Spypoint system. Take a test image, see it on your phone, and you are ready to install the camera.
Cellular connectivity is displayed with a multi-color LED (green, orange, and red) to indicate signal strength, so an installer can move the camera to a location that provides the best cell coverage. A 75-ft. motion detection distance which opens up installation options. Concerned about the physical security of the camera? An optional steel security box can be purchased to provide some level of protection against tampering.
As I looked through the Spypoint website and saw all of the features included with a $100 product, I clicked on the “Cellular Options” screen with some trepidation, figuring that the manufacturer would use the cellular subscription and costs to make their products profitable.
I was stunned to find that if 100 or fewer images per camera are transmitted in a month, the cost is free. There are incremental fees up to $10 for unlimited images. An outdoor camera can be strapped to a tree and start delivering motion images immediately at a very low initial cost, i.e., $100 plus labor.
Now outdoor cameras can be installed very quickly and provide immediate motion photo coverage of specific areas.
These cameras might just make your video offerings more attractive, and outdoor cameras can be installed with no cabling for power or connectivity. I suggest you invest the $100, get the camera, program and install it on your property. Who knows, you might see a deer.