What Is Wireless Video and What Are Its Advantages?
Like a surfer waiting for the perfect wave, wireless surveillance products can offer a great ride for those installations where cabling would be impossible or cost-prohibitive.
From tablets to control panels, wireless capability is cropping up in products in a variety of industries, and security is no exception. Wireless technology is readily available and inexpensive to incorporate into devices, which is why manufacturers are seizing the opportunity to produce and market a variety of Wi-Fi-enabled security products. But manufacturers aren’t the only ones who benefit from wireless; an increasing number of dealers and integrators are riding the wireless wave.
One reason for this shift in technological paradigm stems from installation procedures. Without having to run long stretches of cabling from the cameras, the installation becomes a much quicker job, requiring fewer hours of labor. Added mobility and flexibility are other appealing qualities of wireless cameras. In other words, a wireless camera can be easily installed, uninstalled, and reinstalled elsewhere on a premises, provided there is a viable power source and signal.
Although some wireless cameras utilize a mesh network, a Wi-Fi network is used most commonly to transmit data. Wi-Fi-enabled products adhere to at least one of three standards set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): 802.11g, 802.11n and 802.11ac. The most commonly held standard today is 802.11g, which is able to transfer up to 54 megabits per second and has been implemented worldwide. Wi-Fi, in actuality, is an unlicensed radio frequency that transmits at a power level less than 1 milliwatt. This means it is open for anyone to use and is what has prompted its widespread usage.
A wireless camera has all of the equipment needed to transfer video already built into it. To transfer video, it is first compressed to a smaller size that facilitates transmission over the network — similar to how one might compress several photos into a .zip file to send in an email. Next, the camera encodes the video data into a series of 0s and 1s that is wirelessly transferred via radio waves (Wi-Fi) to a digital destination, such as an NVR or other data storage appliance.
Even though wireless video transmission is a growing trend in the security industry, some are hesitant to be swept up into the Wi-Fi current. As with any technology, wireless has its pros and cons. One real concern is the matter of the Wi-Fi signal: if there’s no signal, there’s no video. There is also the risk that a signal can be disrupted by changes in the environment surrounding either the camera transmitting the signal or the signal-receiving device. Metallic additions to a building, even a small change such as adding foil-backed wallpaper to a room, are known to disrupt a video transmission signal. In general, Wi-Fi coverage is more subject to change, and therefore, so is camera performance. The good news is that wireless camera systems are easily repositioned to address these kinds of problems. Still, regular testing is recommended to ensure that the signal is able to reach its destination at critical moments.
Although Wi-Fi might be what most often comes to mind when talking about wireless cameras, video transmission isn’t the only way in which a camera might be considered “wireless.” Battery-powered and solar-powered cameras with battery backup are available to meet certain customer needs. Most commonly used in situations where a conventional power source isn’t practical or available, solar-powered cameras operate by charging a battery via a solar panel during the day, allowing the camera to function at all hours.
Solely battery-powered cameras, while in the truest sense of the word are not yet considered to be surveillance cameras, still have found a place in the security industry. Most often motion-based, these cameras will record a few seconds of video upon sensing an intrusion (or other designated event). Once recorded, the cameras send video to a designated destination, such as a control panel. However, one company — RSI Videofied — is about to change the way we think about battery-powered cameras. A streaming wireless battery camera is in the works from RSI Videofied — the StreamingViewer — and is scheduled to ship sometime in 2015.
No matter how one thinks of wireless, it’s a growing trend that’s here to stay. More consumers are coming to expect wireless capabilities from the technology they purchase, and it’s up to dealers and integrators to meet those expectations.
Wireless Video: Pros & Cons
Depending on the camera, images displayed with a resolution of up to 20 megapixels, offering greater clarity and detail.
Wireless cameras are limited by the distance from which they can be from a signal-receiving device.
Flexibility and Installation
Because they are easily installed and removed, wireless cameras offer more flexibility if there ever comes a time that the camera needs to be repositioned. Requiring only a means of power, lengths of cable need not be run during the installation of these cameras.
With a number of environmental changes that could affect the signal, such as other devices and physical barriers, the risk is greater when compared with wired cameras.
When connected to the Internet, users can view video and manage the system through PCs and other connected devices.
Because of the heavy bandwidth usage, video is rarely able to be continuously transmitted. Instead, most wireless IP cameras make use of video analytics to only transmit the events for which they’re programmed.
A Survey of Wireless Technology Products
These products are broadening the scope of what it means to be ‘wireless.’ Featured here are a variety of video devices that bear this title, either through the way the device is powered or transmits video. Or, in the case of one such product, both. Read on to see how these companies’ products are making waves.
IR-Cut Filter Wireless Outdoor Camera | VIVOTEK
The VIVOTEK IP8336W is a wireless compact cube camera designed for indoor and outdoor surveillance. Equipped with a 1-megapixel sensor enabling viewing resolution of 1280 x 800 at 30 fps, the IP8336W is an all-in-one outdoor camera capable of capturing high-quality, high-resolution video. By incorporating an IR-cut filter that can be removed automatically at night and built-in IR illuminators with coverage of up to five meters, the IP8336W records quality video at all hours. The IP66-rated housing of the IP8336W enables users to easily build a cost-effective IP-based system without additional accessories. The IP8336W supports H.264 compression technology along with MPEG-4 and MJPEG options, allowing the user to drastically reduce file sizes and conserve valuable network bandwidth. In addition, IP8336W is integrated with 802.11b/g/n wireless, allowing users to quickly configure the camera to their networks with a push of the camera’s WPS button. For information, visit www.vivotek.com/ip8336w.
Camera With up to 4 Years of Battery Life | RSI Videofied
The Videofied MotionViewer wireless camera uses the unique Videofied radio that makes it possible to operate on batteries for up to four years and eliminates the need for a power cable. Videofied wireless cameras are truly wireless and need neither a power cable or Ethernet, meaning installation can be as simple as a magnetic mount on the side of a building or gate. The Videofied Outdoor MotionViewer communicates directly to the Videofied hub/panel over 900MHz (the same frequencies used by police radios), which actually penetrates building materials for better range through walls, trees and other obstructions, according to the company. The VGA color camera is integrated with a PIR motion sensor and four infrared illuminators to minimize power consumption and maximize night vision. Up to 24 cameras all can share a single SIM card/cell modem to send the video clips to the central station. The outdoor camera works in harsh environments, in both hot and cold climates. For information, visit www.videofied.com.
Full HD Wi-Fi Camera | Samsung Techwin America
Samsung Techwin America’s new Wireless Smart Cam SNH-P6410BN WiseNet III Full HD Wi-Fi camera was awarded an honorable mention at ISC West 2014 in the SIA New Product Showcase. Design features include full 1080p video quality at 30fps, a 128 deg. ultra-wide angle field of view, dual band Wi-Fi and advanced motion detection with real-time notification. The camera also features true wide dynamic range (120dB WDR), a micro 64G SDXC memory card slot and a speaker and microphone for two-way talk. Targeted for homes, SOHO and SMB users, SNH-P6410BN provides professional surveillance grade video quality. Users can set up events, view live video through 3G/4G or WiFi network through iOS®, Android®, PC and Mac devices anytime, anywhere. Video can be recorded in either H.264 or MJPEG. To help ensure uninterrupted viewing, the Smart Cam supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and allows multiple streaming of up to four different profiles. The camera features audio detection and advanced motion detection, allowing for three areas of interest to be set, with alarm notifications sent by email or mobile. Event, manual or continuous recording is programmable, and up to 64 GB of data can be recorded on a micro SDXC memory card. For information, visit samsung-security.com.
Wi-Fi Camera With PIR Motion Detection | Bosch Security Systems
The Bosch 720p indoor microbox cameras with Wi-Fi and a passive infrared (PIR) motion detector are ready-to-use network video surveillance systems inside a compact housing. These cameras bring Bosch’s technology into the realm of homes, small office and retail businesses by offering a cost-effective solution for a broad range of applications. The wireless connectivity, with no external antenna, enhances the aesthetic nature of the installation and also removes the need for a network cable. The integrated wireless LAN feature supports the IEEE 802.11b, g and n standards, allowing the camera to connect to fast Wi-Fi access points. The WPS button provides an easy and simple way to set up the wireless LAN connection and security settings. The built-in PIR sensor detects motion within five meters, even in complete darkness. It then can trigger an alarm, start recording or switch on the integrated white light LED to provide illumination in darkened rooms. For information, visit www.bosch.us.
Solar & Wireless Video Surveillance System | MicroPower
MicroPower’s solar wireless, low-power video surveillance system is equipped with a central receiving hub, eliminating the need for trenching, cabling and permitting. MicroPower asserts that the system consumes less than 10 percent of the power of an industry-standard IP camera and is able to wirelessly transmit data up to a half mile away — all powered by solar energy. An embedded lithium ion battery powers the camera for up to five days on a single charge. The ultra-low power functionality reduces the solar panel size to 1.2ft2, making MicroPower’s system the most compact solar wireless solution on the market, according to the company. The end user benefits from a smaller footprint due to the minimal solar panel, year-round reliability, and the freedom to place cameras wherever they are needed for maximum coverage. For information, visit www.micropower.com.
Intelligent Video Surveillance Solution | CheckVideo
The CheckVideo IP Camera (CV120) is a self-contained video surveillance and recording system with built-in, advanced, auto-adapting analytics. This camera system can be set up either wired (using fast Ethernet 10/100) or fully wireless utilizing standard 802.11. The CV120 can be powered via PoE or conventional 12VDC. CheckVideo’s award-winning MANAGED VIDEO services come included, which enable the user to receive immediate alerts and other relevant information to drastically reduce false alarms and make more informed decisions about the environment being secured. The CheckVideo CV120 is an entirely cloud-based intelligent video management solution that requires no additional hardware or software to deploy. For information, visit www.checkvideo.com.
Outdoor Wireless Subscriber Unit | AvaLAN
The AW58303HTS from AvaLAN is a 5.8 GHz outdoor wireless Ethernet subscriber unit that delivers RF data rates up to 300 Mbps. This product allows for line-of-sight, point-to-multipoint or multipoint-to-multipoint configurations. Utilizing MIMO technology, this subscriber unit achieves a very high data rate through a combination of multiple spacial streams and higher level OFDM modulation. It has the maximum legal transmit power of 1 Watt and includes an 802.3at power over Ethernet 3-port switch that allows for a wireless Ethernet drop at a location and provides power and data connections for up to three Ethernet devices. This radio is packaged in a rugged and weatherproof die-cast aluminum enclosure optimized for outdoor conditions.
For information, visit avalanwireless.com.