Surveillance App Is a Win-Win for Homeowner, Installer
When show business executive Michael Lambert rented out one of his two homes â€” a beach house in upscale Malibu, Calif. â€” he wanted to find a way to keep tabs on it from wherever he was at any time. Lambert lives in Los Angeles and can drive to Malibu if needed, but in southern California traffic, the trip can take hours â€” and Lambert wanted to avoid unnecessary trips.
The house had a monitored alarm system and a video surveillance system, which were installed by J.N.T. Systems, a Los Angeles-based company. The video system has about a dozen cameras wired to a digital video recorder from Chantilly, Va.-based manufacturer Dedicated Micros.
“The cameras are all around the property,” Lambert comments. “A few are on the beach. Some are on the side of the house or at the doors, etc.”
Lambert already had the ability to use a computer’s Web browser to check in on the cameras using a password-protected interface provided by Dedicated Micros. Tom Holliday, owner of J.N.T., likens the Dedicated Micros solution to Slingbox, the product that lets consumers watch and control their television over the Internet. “You don’t need an application on the computer,” Holliday explains. “You go to the Dedicated Micros Web site, enter the serial number and you can view the system and control the pan-tilt-zoom.”
But because he relies heavily on his iPhone for all of his communication needs, Lambert opted to augment his remote control capability by using MobileCamViewer, a software solution from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based software provider mobiDEOS, that works with his iPhone.
“When you first log on, you open an application and touch a button that brings you to a list of cameras,” Lambert explains. “You can see all 12 and you touch one of the cameras and it brings the image from that camera up immediately.”
Several of the cameras have pan-tilt-zoom functionality, which Lambert can control from his iPhone. Using haptics, the touch-and-wipe functionality built into the iPhone, Lambert says, “I can wipe over the screen left or right to pan left or right, or up and down to move up and down.”
As with much of southern California, there is some public access to the beach in front of Lambert’s Malibu house, and he likes the peace of mind of being able to check in on the property whenever he wants to. When Lambert heard of a high surf advisory recently, he was able to assess the situation remotely and make arrangements to have some outdoor furniture moved around so that damage would not occur.
“It was a game changer after it was installed,” Lambert describes. “I hardly use the computer to check on things any more.”
Lambert got the MobileCamViewer software with no upfront charge by agreeing to pay a monthly service fee. There is no software to install on the DVR. The MobileCamViewer service uses the broadband connection in Lambert’s Malibu home to send images from the Dedicated Micros DVR in response to Lambert’s cell phone commands. Images are streamed over a combination of wired and wireless Internet links to Lambert’s iPhone.
As an alternative to the software-as-a-service offering, end users can avoid monthly charges by purchasing the MobileCamViewer service for a flat fee. The advantage of software-as-a-service is that it offers more flexibility in transferring service to a different phone or replacing software when a phone is lost, notes mobiDEOS chief executive officer, Sri Palasamudram.
Lambert downloaded the MobileCam-Viewer software for his iPhone from Apple’s iPhone store and was able to easily configure it to interface with his Dedicated Micros DVR.
In addition to the iPhone, mobiDEOS software is available to work with mobile devices from a range of manufacturers, including Palm, Motorola, Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Sanyo, LG, Samsung and HTC.
“What I love about it is it’s simple and really fast,” Lambert says.
Lambert, who found mobiDEOS through an Internet search, may not be a typical customer. End users who are less hands-on or technically oriented may prefer, instead, to have a higher level of involvement from their security dealer or integrator in getting set up to use MobileCamViewer. Palasamudram says MobiDEOS is eager to work with security dealer/integrators and has a program that enables them to share in the recurring monthly revenue.