All it takes to keep a video watch over your home -- or your baby -- is a wireless camera, a WIFi network and your smartphone.
D-Link's DCS 933L provides a home surveillance system that you can set up in five minutes --for under Rs 4300
When Vint Cerf, the "Father of Internet" visited India a few years ago, he sported a T shirt that said "IP on everything". IP stands for Internet Protocol, the numerical label that every device accessing the Internet is assigned. The 70 year Cerf old is nothing if not naughty and when he read out the words on his chest, he stressed the second letter, which opened up an interesting alternative interpretation.
Cerf was right: With most of us owning a smart phone, the ability to ride on IP and connect to any device, anywhere, is an agni asthra in our hands. And now companies which used to provide CCTV surveillance solutions in an earlier analogue era, have leveraged IP to create simple, wire-free surveillance solutions for the home that non-geeks can set up on their own.
I recently tried out one such affordable solution from D-Link -- the DCS 933L WiFi Day/Night Cloud Camera (NH.264). It is made for us tech-challenged dummies, who can get it up and working in 5 minutes, if you already have a modern WiFi router in the house.
The camera which weighs less than 100 gms can sit on top of a shelf if you want to cover areas indoors-- like a baby cot . It can also be fixed outside the main door.
All WiFi routers today are WPA-ready, which means you can use the WIFi Protected Access feature which secures your network with a password. If your home router is a D-Link cloud router or a similar recent product, it will be have a WPA button. The 933L has a similar button and pressing it instantly links it to your existing network. If your router is not from D-Link, you can use the CD provided to install the camera using any Windows or Mac PC or laptop.
The 'mydlink' app downloadable for Android and iOS allows you to see what the camera is seeing and hear what it is hearing -- live-- on your smartphone or tablet. Which means you can keep an eye on your home from anywhere. The app sends you an alert message -- with a snapshot of the scene when it detects a movement or a sound. It divides the view from the camera into a grid so that you mark off portions where you don't want to set off the alarm just because the motion sensor detects your ceiling fan spinning or a curtain moving in the breeze!
If you are installing the camera indoors -- overlooking a baby cot say -- you can set the threshold sound level to alert you when the baby cries. You can also zoom four-fold, from your phone. The camera has a night vision mode, which works in darkness, up to 5 metres. Buying the camera gets you free use of the mydlink cloud feature to monitor your home in real time. For Rs 4299, this is about as good as it gets in wireless home surveillance. At this price you don't get automatic storage of the video content like some pricier models -- though clever people have figured that you can open tweak it to send the video to a storage disk you have to buy separately. If you want to remotely pan and tilt the camera, you need to buy another D-Link camera the DCS-5020L which costs Rs 8499.
The image (640 by 480 pixels) is on the small size for such devices and you will find costlier options on online sites which offer both 720p HD quality and two-way audio -- that means you not only hear what the camera is hearing -- but can talk back and be heard.
But I'm still trying to figure out how this last feature would be used. You see an intruder trying to break into your home. Do you raise the alarm/ call the police/ watchman or do you enter into a dialogue and politely tell the badmaash to go away? -- Anand Parthasarathy