Surveillance has become an essential need of home and office infrastructures, today. CCTV (Closed circuit Television) cameras are being installed in offices, homes, public places and even vehicles to enhance the security of assets and human beings. IP Cameras or Internet Cameras are one of the popular digital devices used for transmission and capturing of video data. IP camera is a digital camera or a webcam that transmits the data over a computer network(LAN) or the internet. IP cameras offer better video resolution, digital storage, advanced control features and flexibility to add any additional cameras. Unlike CCTV camera, IP cameras have their own memory to store data and can be powered by POE (power over Ethernet) adapter. Let us find out what are the major applications and how do IP cameras work.
Features of IP Cameras
Easy to setup. The IP cameras are easy to install (plug and play) electronic devices. They come with pre-installed software and are compatible with windows, Android and iOS operating systems.
Remote Viewing. You can view your home or office remotely from anywhere over the internet with free DDNS or static IP. You can also tilt or pan the camera remotely from your smartphone.
Motion Alarms. Whenever an intrusion or motion is sensed by an IP camera, it will instantly send a notification or email to your phone.
Two-way Audio. With two-way communication, you can talk to your employees at the office or talk to your siblings at home.
Multi-user. Multiple users can simultaneously use the IP camera on multiple devices like PC, tablet or phone.
Form-Factor. The IP cameras are available in multiple interface types. You can connect it directly to network with LAN port or wirelessly configure it with a Wi-Fi router. The IP cameras come in both fixed as well as PTZ configurations.
Storage memory. The IP cameras come equipped with TF (trans flash) memory card slots. Depending on the storage capacity of memory cards, you can store the video recording for a larger number of days.
Night-Vision. Equipped with infrared LEDs, IP cameras are fully capable of capturing and transmitting Live videos during the night or low light conditions.
How IP camera Works
IP cameras capture the data in a similar fashion as a digital camera does. The IP camera has the ability to compress these captured videos and transmit them over the network. Just like any other network peripheral like printer or scanner, you can add IP camera to the existing network infrastructure. If you intend to use a single camera you can directly access it over the internet since it already has the required software and memory to operate as an independent unit.
If you want to use multiple IP cameras, the same can be configured using a centralized software called Network Video Recorder(NVR). The utility of NVR is similar to DVR (Digital Video Recorder) that is to view the videos from multiple cameras. DVR is a physical device and involves other functionalities like encoding and processing of video data. NVR, on the other hand, is only a software program that receives the pre-processed data from IP cameras and enables multiple camera viewing.
IP cameras can be connected in following three types of networks
- Wired Network. The IP cameras come with RJ45 port and you can connect this camera to a router or a switch in LAN with Cat-5 or Cat-6 cables. Connectivity on a wired network offers maximum security and bandwidth.
- Wireless network. Like any other wireless device, IP cameras come with a Wi-Fi connectivity option. You can easily connect it to a wireless router to access it without any hassles of wires. But you have to compromise on bandwidth and security on a Wi-Fi network.
- Cellular network. Many IP cameras are equipped with inbuilt cellular chips. Cellular networks offer slow bandwidth speeds but much higher security levels than Wireless networks.
Remote access Setup
In order to access IP cameras from a remote location, you need an internet connection and apart from that you must have a static IP assigned to IP camera. The internet service providers ( ISP) can provide you a static IP on paid basis. You need to do port forwarding in the router to complete the configuration setup. You can now access the IP cameras by just typing the static IP in web browser address.
If your ISP is unable to provide you static IP, you can subscribe to a fixed URL on DDNS (Dynamic Domain Name Service). Most of the sites like DNSdynamic, Dynu, No-IP offer free domain names to map dynamic IPs.
IP cameras are extensively used in both residential and business surveillance largely due to its advanced features. IP cameras consume high bandwidth but produce high definition videos that can be viewed from PC or phone from any remote location over a data connection. If you have used IP cameras or have any question regarding them, do post your queries or views in the comments section.