What is a Wi-Fi Camera?
What are the Fundamental Differences Between the Traditional & Wi-Fi Cameras?
Traditionally, a CCTV system consist of cameras that are physically connected with a centralized recording device via a cable. The amount of cables that are connected from one device to another is depending on the type of the CCTV system. For example, the more traditional analog system normally have two cables connected to a camera - one is to connect the camera to the centralized recording device known as a digital video recorder (DVR), transmitting data from the cameras to the DVR, the other cable is between the camera to the centralized power supply unit, this is to distribute electricity to power the camera. While as the more advanced network or IP technology CCTV system transmit data and power via the ethernet cable, this means that normally, there would be only one cable that connects a camera to the centralized recording device known as the network video recorder (NVR).
Wi-Fi camera, as its name suggested, requires no cable to connect itself to a centralized device. In fact, Wi-Fi cameras can be operated without a centralized recording device such as an NVR. The live video feeds of the Wi-Fi cameras can be viewed on your devices no matter where you are as long as your device have access to the internet. This, however require for an adequate Wi-Fi coverage and internet access at the site of where the cameras are being installed as the cameras are required to be connected to the internet via Wi-Fi.
Where the Wi-Fi Camera's Recorded Videos are Stored?
Traditionally, the recorded videos from the conventional CCTV systems are stored in a hard drive that is located in the DVR (for analog) or NVR (for IP), that is why all of the cameras are required to be physically connected via cables to a centralized recording device (DVR or NVR).
As for a Wi-Fi camera system, there are several methods to store recorded videos.
The recordings can be stored on a micro SD card that can be inserted into the camera itself
The recordings can be stored in a shared hard disk, this method requires for the cameras to be physically connected via ethernet cables to an NVR (where the hard disc is located) like the conventional IP CCTV system.
The recordings can be stored in the cloud storage, this method's advantages are; no on-site physical storage device such as a hard disc or a micro SD card, which also means that the recordings cannot be physically stolen by intruders that wished to eliminate the video recording evidence.
Does a Wi-Fi Camera means that the Camera is Wireless?
Not necessarily, but it can be. A wi-fi camera is wirelessly connected to the internet, eliminating the need for a physical cable to connect the camera to a centralized device such as a video recorder, however, the camera still needs to be powered by electricity, which means that the camera needs to be physically plugged into a power outlet such as a wall socket. However, this still does not mean that the number of cables and cable work is still the same as the conventional CCTV system, the conventional CCTV system require new cables to be installed from each camera all the way to the video recorder, and for the case of the analog system, another separate cable that runs from each camera to a centralized power supply. As for the wi-fi camera, the power socket can be installed near the camera by having the new power cable installed from the nearest existing power socket, or in some cases, from the distribution box.
However there are battery-powered Wi-Fi cameras which eliminate the need for the camera to be physically connected via a cable to anything at all, but the downside to this type of system is that the camera will need to be taken down to be charged, which means that there will be some moments when the camera is not recording. and also means more work for the owner.
Advantages of a Wi-Fi Camera System
There are plenty of advantages of a wi-fi camera system in comparison to the more traditional systems.
As mentioned above, a wi-fi camera system significantly reduces or completely reduces the need for obstructive and bulky wiring installed all over your premise.
Various Recording Storage Methods
The video recordings can either be saved into a hard drive in an NVR via ethernet cables like the conventional IP CCTV system. Another method is to store the recordings in a micro SD card that can be inserted into a slot of the camera itself. Alternatively, the recordings can be stored into the cloud storage via your home's wi-fi network, the advantages of this method are that there's less chance of loosing recordings due to storage device corruption or stolen by the intruders for the purpose of getting rid of the evidence. This method however normally requires a paid subscription with the cloud storage service provider.
Wi-fi cameras are normally equipped with more advanced A.I. features. The features vary from one model to another, examples of such features are; human detection where the camera is then able to automatically trigger the built-in siren when human is detected and send a notification to your devices such as your mobile phone, even when you're away. It can also alert you via phone notification when it sense an unusual noise such as a sound of a glass break, via its built-in mic.
Some models come with a built-in mic and a built-in speaker, this enables you to view, hear, speak to the person that is near the camera, that person will also be able to speak to you through the built-in mic.
Some wi-fi cameras come with a 'privacy mode' where you can remotely via your device switch to 'privacy mode' to get the camera to physically cover its lens. This feature is useful in situations such as cameras are installed inside your home for you to monitor when you are away or to monitor your children's baby sitter with your child, but wished to have no recording during the times when you're at home for privacy purposes.
Remotely Pan & Tilt Using Your Device
Certain models come with pan and tilt feature where you are able to control through your phone even when you are away, this feature gives you the ability to view different areas of your premise as you desired.
Certain models come with a 'cruise mode', which means that the camera can continuously pan from left to right, useful for cases where you have a wide area to cover using one camera.
Certain models come with a 'smart tracking' feature, an ability for a camera to detect a human, and pan & tilt in accordance to the human's movement. This means that as long as the intruder is moving around the area that is still within the camera's pan & tilt's angle, the camera will follow the intruder, enduring that the intruder is constantly in sight to be recorded.
Disadvantages of a Wi-Fi Camera System
Requires a Good Wi-Fi Coverage
Since the cameras are connected via home/ office's wi-fi network, the cameras are required to be connected to a strong signal, stable and reasonably fast internet connection. Furthermore, as any other devices, a physically wired connection is generally more stable than a wireless connection. However, if the cameras are located within a reasonable proximity to the wi-fi router and the internet connection of the premise is good, chances are that there would not be a problem.
3-pin Power Socket at Every Cameras
The difference between how a traditional camera and a wi-fi camera is powered is a traditional camera receives its power via a power a cable that runs all the way to a centralized power supply unit that is normally located in a storage or a secured server room. This means that multiple cameras are physically connected via cables to this power supply unit, if the power to the centralized power supply unit is turned off, all cameras that are powered by that unit will be turned off. However due to where it is normally located, for the intruder to turn off the power supply unit would be a difficult task.
Wi-fi cameras normally comes with an adapter that can be connected to a normal wall power socket. This means that a power socket is needed in a close proximity to where each camera is located. This means that unlike the traditional cameras, the wi-fi cameras are powered independently, therefore if the intruder turn of the power for a camera, only that camera in that premise will be turned off, however in cases where the plug is installed right next to the camera and exposed, the task of turning off the power to the camera would be less difficult.
Interrupted Cloud Storage if Internet is not Stable
If the user opt for the could storage method as the only method to store their recordings, the recordings will not be able to be stored if there is an internet disruption at the user's premise, unless the user also opt for the micro SD card method as a backup.
The cost is slightly higher in comparison with the traditional systems.
In conclusion, as technology progresses, we are seeing more and more things moving towards wireless connection and integration with the internet, and surveillance camera is no exception. Wi-fi camera is one of the technological advancement in the security surveillance industry, so why not invest in the more future-proof technology for your safety?