Did you know you can use your smartphone as a wireless security camera?

SpyNet

UPDATE 7 Jun 2017 – the application has been renamed to  Cam’ON – Cloud IP Camera.

Yes, it’s true! And now you can even connect it to Angelcam without any network configuration. spyNet Camera works with WiFi or by using mobile data connectivity. It can stream any available camera and it’s free. And it’s not the only advantage. You can turn your Android device into a security camera that protects your house, hotel or AirBnB room. Or anything else that needs to be temporarily secured. You just use your phone that has a battery and wi-fi (no wires required) and there you go – your security system comes alive! Anytime you move your camera to a different network (new wi-fi or even cellular) and connect it to Angelcam, it’s connected securely to our cloud.

All you need is a smartphone with Android 5.0 (and up) and a wireless connection.

If you want to give it a try, please follow these steps:

  • Install it and make sure it has the required permissions.
  • Open the app.
  • Enable Angelcam ready.
  • Find a MAC address of your device. A simple guide is here
  • Follow this link and fill in the MAC address of your device.
  • Scan the QR code, name the camera and add it to your account.

GooglePlayBadge

Here’s a little help with screenshots for Android 6.0 how to configure the app.

  • After enabling the adapter, you’ll receive a notification asking to register and showing the MAC you use.

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  • If you click on the notification, a message will be shown explaining what to do.

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  • You’ll also get a notification on your mobile phone like this.

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  • Also you can allow the streaming over mobile data connection by disabling the ‘WiFi only’ option from here.
    unnamed7unnamed8

 

Note: If you want to use the same device on a different account, please contact our support. The pairing record needs to be removed first.

 

 

 

What’s the delay between reality and your camera stream? Only 2 seconds now!

Nobody likes to wait. Nobody wants to install yet another plug-in to the computer. Everybody loves when their camera broadcasting runs smoothly. That’s exactly why we’ve brought another feature to our cloud platform – LOW LATENCY STREAMING.

CHECK OUT IT’S ADVANTAGES:

  • Minimum delay between reality and camera stream – only 2 seconds! (Otherwise it can be  5, 10 or even 20 seconds).
  • Faster loading of the camera stream.
  • Runs directly in your browser, you don’t have to install Flash Player or plug-ins
  • Lower CPU load.

So far, the feature is available for Google Chrome & Microsoft Edge. The only little disadvantage is no support of sound, as the stream is muted when Low latency is on.

 

HERE IS HOW TO ENABLE IT:

  1. Sign in to your Angelcam account
  2. Go to My cameras
  3. Click the icon of Broadcasting app* on the selected camera
  4. Go to General sheet in settings
  5. Check the box by Low Latency Streaming & click Save settings

LowLatency

6. You can than see the status of the Low latency feature in Overview sheet.

LowLatency2

 

*The feature works not only in Broadcasting app, but influences your camera settings in general, so you can benefit from it in Cloud Recording App too.

Ready to give it a try? Let us know how is it going, right 😉

Move forward through your recordings up to 8x faster

Our new feature you’ve been asking for is here – Fast forward! It is still in BETA test (experimental function), but we believe we can fine tune it with your help and make it perfect soon.

Fast forward can move forward through your recordings to find a specific moment up to 8x faster. From now on, you don’t have to lose your precious time watching recordings in real-time speed. You can choose to watch a video 2x, 4x or 8x faster with the help of new controls that show up below the timeline.

 

fastforward_720

Please note that Fast forward mode:

  • is available only on some browsers:
    • Chrome for Desktop 34+, 
    • Firefox for Desktop 42+
    • MS IE11+ for Windows 8.1
    • MS Edge
  • can be turned on by the switch in Fast forward box (and controls will pop up when clicking on the timeline),
  • is not compatible with all cameras,
  • works only with recordings, not live view,
  • right now is available within free plan for limited time.

And:

  • if Fast forward mode is turned on, it can affect video playback (if this happens, turn the mode off),
  • we can disable Fast forward mode anytime due technical maintenance.

Give it a try, we’ll be happy if it saves your time. If you’ll find a moment, give us your feedback. Happy Fast forwarding!

 

 

 

Where do angels meet in London? At the security exhibition IFSEC!

Last week London held Europe’s largest security exhibition, IFSEC International, and of course we couldn’t miss this exciting event!

IFSEC is a great exhibition where you can meet everyone from the world of security systems, such as manufacturers, distributors, installers, integrators, consultants and end users. You can see hundreds of latest technology innovations for the protection of your property and people.
What surprised us this year was the general theme of the exhibition, that is, openness and collaboration. Manufacturers seem to realize success is not tied to just hardware, but rather the overall solution, interoperability and the ease of installation.  It also seems everyone senses change coming to the industry. Cameras are getting cheaper and smarter (you could see a camera that can recognize people, follow them and even talk to them), DIY products are entering the market and cloud solutions are changing business models.  For all of these reasons, manufacturers need to cooperate and embrace openness.  

IFSEC 2016

 

Let’s take a peek at what caught our attention:

  • Higher resolution cameras (eg. new Avigilon 7K Pro camera that cover larger areas with less cameras, very handy for parking lots for instance), lower priced cameras, more h.265 codecs.
  • More integrations and many cloud solutions built around camera hardware.
  • Axis zipstream compression (together with h.265 camera are about to reduce bandwidth needs).
  • The AXIS Design Tool continues to evolve, showing that manufacturers are differentiating themselves by catering to the needs of the integrators.  
  • Smart doors. Assa Abbloy made us believe the future of unlocking doors is not using keys (no more lost or forgotten keys at home, hurray!)
  • It was interesting to see the Home Automation House, a new smart home built on the  exhibition floor and packed full of interesting smart products (lights, baby monitors, security systems, home audio etc.)
  • Jon Carter, UK Head of Business Development for the Connected Home at Deutsche Telekom said at IFSEC: “There is not an industry player that can even start to replicate the same level of innovation as Amazon. It can capture more and more data as connected products feed back to the core data warehouse through Echo to better understand the customer’s needs and offer products which are relevant to them (if interested in topic, see http://www.ifsecglobal.com/amazon-steal-your-business/?cid=homepage_1st)

 

We’ve met many interesting people and saw things that convinced us that security systems are one great field to work in. See you next year, London.

IFSEC 2016

 

 

Cameras that love Angelcam

Check out the list of compatible cameras at “Connect a camera”. If you can’t find yours in the list, your camera may still be compatible. Just read this article to find out!

Most IP cameras support H.264 encoding and RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) – the standard,most compatible and reliable service for streaming. You will need a device that has these features to use our Cloud recording app.
We also support MJPEG mode but only for our Live Streaming app (we may include further support for MJPEG cameras in the future).

Check your camera specifications for compatibility (in its manual or on the web). If you find RTSP among the specs, H.264 is usually supported as well. But double check! In this screenshot from the manual of an Axis camera, you can find the H.264 under video specifications.

Screen-Shot-2016-06-13-at-08.10.35

RTSP can be found under Network or sometimes Protocols.

Screen-Shot-2016-06-13-at-08.10.52

Be aware, some un-branded or cheaper devices will mention RTSP support, but may be missing or very unstable. Use our list below to assist you.

Recommended cameras

We listed some of our favourite brands here:

axis

Axis

Most cameras have required protocols as well as a service called AVHS allowing you to connect using “one click” technology. No router configuration is required and with Axis, although the price may be higher, you always get a quality product with good support, great image quality and configuration options.

foscam

Foscam

Another well known brand which offers good image quality for a good price. The configuration is not very detailed, but it gets the job done for most users. Look for camera models marked 9xxx, the older ones don’t support h264 encoding.

dahua

Dahua

As currently the world’s biggest IP camera manufacturer, Dahua offers a wide range of devices for various applications at a great value for money with the price of basic models starting under $99.

However, Dahua devices are often unofficially distributed, meaning there’s no firmware upgrade option, or various glitches may occur in the settings.

tp-link

TP-link

A good choice for a home user.

ipcc

IPCC

One of the few low-cost brands which actually works: A nice user interface with all the basic settings. Great value for money – price can be as low as $40, international shipping included.

vivotek

Vivotek

A well known manufacturer, good quality and acceptable price. Good support.

sony

Sony

Great image quality, some neat features. Higher price.

hikvision

Hikvision

Another big manufacturer, it is similar to Dahua with all pros and cons.

 

Other brands: Samsung, Geovision, AirLive, Bosch, Panasonic, Pelco

There are many other brands, and generic devices which function perfectly with Angelcam.

Not recommended cameras

Xiaomi Small Ants (Also known as YiCam, MiCam): this brand commonly has issues with it’s RTSP streaming and is usually not stable or working on our Cloud recording app. This device also comes with various firmware versions, some of which don’t even support RTSP. You can run into many more similar Dropcam/Nest clones with the same problem.

NEST cam (Dropcam): Restricted access for mainly their own services. Incompatible with Angelcam.

TP-Link NC200: Although this device does not work on angelcam, newer versions, such as the NC220 are working without issues.

D-Link DCS-931L, 932L, DCS 5020L: no RTSP support, unstable MJPEG stream. Some other D-Link models have stability issues as well

Cantonk: The camera restarts when we try to initiate a new connection

Escam: Cameras keep restarting

Cameras that require an extra step in the setup process

AEvision & Vstarcam & Anran: Are not currently detected by Angelcam due to specific authentication requirements. RTSP address should be set manually.

 

 

Angelcam roadtrip: Las Vegas, New York, Lancaster, Prague

We’re traveling again. Understanding a customer needs and building a partner relationships is something we are always thrilling to do. In January you could meet us in four different locations:

Mike and Luke in Las Vegas

Mike and Luke in Las Vegas, CES

  • Las Vegas until Saturday 9th

    Just now you can meet Luke & Mike in Las Vegas on a CES show, where they visited our friends from Muzzley as well. They’re simplifying the home automation in a great way.

  • Lancaster (Pennsylvania): 9-16th of January, 2016

  • New York City: 16-19th of January, 2016

  • Prague (Czech Republic): from 19th January, 2016

On February we will be in San Francisco, on April in Las Vegas again (ISC West show) and we’re planning our trip to Tokyo and other places. We’ve customers and partners in more than 150 countries and we want to meet as much as possible interesting people.

So feel free to drop us a line to luke@angelcam.com and schedule a talk about your needs or business challenges!

Optimizing Your Camera for Smooth Streaming: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know in 1262 words

You’re here because you need your camera to be streaming properly. We get that, so let’s skip the usual opening chit-chat and get straight to business.

Ready? Let’s go.

When configuring your camera stream, your main goal is clear: to find the best possible streaming quality while keeping your Internet connection limits in mind and then to provide a satisfactory quality / bandwidth ratio for your viewers (note that some of them will be watching your stream on their mobile devices).

We would love to tell you that things are very much straightforward and there’s one single most important attribute of any stream that you should focus on. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

What matters most is the purpose of the stream. Are you going to broadcast a live stream from a concert? Or are you interested in streaming “just” for security reasons? Once you’ve determined this, there are three key attributes of your stream that matter most.

Resolution

You likely know a thing or two about this, but let’s sum it up anyway. Repetition has never killed anyone, right?

The optimal resolution which delivers a high-quality stream is 1280×720 pixels. You and your viewers should be fine with that. However, if you start experiencing connection issues, lower it right away to keep the stream running smoothly – ideally to VGA resolution, which is 640×480 pixels.

If the opposite is the case, meaning you have a solid Internet connection and want viewers to enjoy higher image quality (in fullscreen, for example), switch to 1920×1080 pixels, that should do. Such resolution is particularly useful when you or your viewers will likely be zooming in when watching the recorded footage.

By now, a question might have popped up in your head. What does “solid” connection really mean? Let’s have a brief look at Internet speeds. If you’re already familiar with this subtopic, feel free to skip to the next chapter titled Compression.

Internet speeds

Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) should be able to tell you what your Internet speed should be. It always includes two numbers:

  • Download (usually the higher number)
  • Upload (usually the lower number)

If you are trying to stream your camera over the Internet, you should mainly worry about the Upload speed, as this is the speed which will limit you in how much data or camera streams you will be able to stream. It is good to measure your real-life speed, for example at www.speedtest.net.

For a 720p camera with h.264 stream, we recommend an upload speed of around 1Mbps, in order to maintain decent video quality. For each additional camera, you would have to multiply that number of course.

All clear so far? Good, let’s move on.

Compression

Compression is the second of the three key attributes of your stream. And – just to give you a heads up – it’s also the point where things start to get a bit nasty, technical jargon-wise. No worries, though, you’ll be fine!

When it comes to compression, you get to choose from three options:

  • MJPEG
  • MPEG4
  • h.264

The most suitable one? Opt for h.264. It consumes a lot less bandwidth than the remaining two while maintaining the same image quality. Interested in details? Read the compression types comparison below. If you’re fine with just knowing that the three options exist, feel free to skip it.

Compression types comparison

MJPEG

+ compatibility
+ supported by most cameras
+ low decoding demands
– consumes significantly more bandwidth than h.264
– lower quality of the stream
– not supported by our recording app
– no audio support

h.264:

+ best widely supported compression type available
+ reduces bandwidth usage
+ high quality picture
+ can include audio
+ can be used with cloud recording app
– higher hardware demands for decoding
– the picture might be temporarily corrupted when packets get lost

MPEG4

– not widely supported (like most platforms, we don’t support MPEG4 either)
– it is a compression similar to h.264 but not as efficient

Along with h.264 comparison, we also recommend you to go for either of these two options:

  • CBR (constant bitrate) set to a lower value than the upload speed of your Internet connection.
  • VBR (variable bitrate) with a fixed maximum value which won’t be exceeded.
    This way, you will decrease the bandwidth when there is no movement in the picture. That proves useful especially when streaming for security reasons.

If you use fixed quality settings, you can run into trouble with your stream when the traffic increases significantly, e.g. at night or when there’s sudden, unexpected movement in the stream, which either exceeds the upload bandwidth or the camera itself can’t handle.

Framerate

Almost there! We’ve already discussed resolution and compression, let’s close it with the third attribute of a stream – the frame rate.

Most cameras allow you to choose frame rate on a scale from 1 to 30 FPS (frames per second). The higher the frame rate (more FPS), the more fluid your streaming is.

Sounds logical, right?

Lower frame rate results in using less bandwidth, but also for a choppy video. We recommend it when there’s not much movement in the picture because then you can save some bandwidth or use the same bandwidth to keep the stream fluid.

Higher frame rate consumes more bandwidth and, not surprisingly, results in a more fluid video. It should be your option of choice when you’re about to stream fast action and a lot of movement. In order to avoid using too much bandwidth while keeping the picture fluid, we suggest lowering the resolution or compression quality.

When streaming for security purposes, it’s usually sufficient to opt for a frame rate of 10 – 15 FPS. Some cameras will even lower the frame rate during nighttime as they increase the exposure time in order to reduce the noise in the picture.

That’s it!

Got what you came here for? Great! Need to go deeper? Leave a comment, our camera guru, Paul, will be in touch.

For those of you who are still hungry for more information, we prepared a glossary with the most widespread expressions you can possibly come across when dealing with streaming and cameras in general. We’ve covered some of them earlier in this blog post, some might be new to you.

The glossary

FPS = Frames Per Second

How many frames per second your camera encodes. It can usually be set to 1 to 30. The higher the value, the more fluid the video is.

CBR = Constant BitRate

Also known as fixed bitrate. The camera will keep the bitrate constant, thus the video quality will vary.

VBR = Variable BitRate

Also known as fixed quality. The camera will keep the quality constant, thus the video bitrate will vary.

GOP = Group Of Pictures

Also known as I-Frame interval, keyframe interval. It can be expressed and set in seconds (1/30 to 2s) or in frames (1 to 60). This value identifies how frequently the keyframe (complete picture) will be used in comparison with predictive frames (incomplete pictures, carrying only data which differ from the keyframe)

More frequent keyframes are used for videos with a lot of motion, which reduces a potential chance of frame corruption. Less frequent keyframes are used for more static videos, where it can significantly reduce the bandwidth or improve image quality while maintaining the bandwidth.

GOV = GOP Compression

Image quality can be set in percentage (0-100) or in steps from low to high. It influences the overall image quality and bandwidth usage.

High value = high quality, high bandwidth usage.

Low value = blocky / blurry image, low detail, low bandwidth usage.

Powerline frequency

It reduces flickering when used in combination with artificial light (fluorescent lamp). 50/60Hz (EU/US), anti-flicker.

OK, now that really is it. We hope we’ve made things clearer to you!

How to save bandwidth without lowering stream quality

There are numerous ways to save bandwidth when streaming video. Most of them, however, have a direct negative impact on the quality of the stream (e.g. lowering bit rate, frame rate or resolution).

Luckily, you can seek out more sophisticated forms of saving bandwidth, ones that have no or very little negative consequences.

The most well known technology is Zipstream by AXIS. It’s supposed to save about 50% of transferred data without lowering the quality of your stream. And our own tests confirm that you can really achieve these savings with AXIS.

Zipstream turns out to be most useful for night scenes and static scenes.

You can turn it on in your camera settings via the Video Stream Settings / Zipstream section. Turn H.264 bitrate reduction to High and turn on Dynamic GOP (Zipstream can only be used with newer camera models).

Other camera manufacturers certainly don’t want to be left behind, so you can check out technologies like Vivotek Smart Stream, Hikvision Smart H.264 and Arecont Bandwidth Saving Mode.

Port Forwarding: The Solid Guide You’ve Been Looking for

It can be a tricky thing, this port forwarding! No worries, though, with this guide you’ll manage to set it up on your camera before your coffee cools down.

Let’s start with a bit of theory to get you warmed up.

It’s your router that matters

Every device, which is a part of your local network, has its own local IP address. To make things interesting (meaning more confusing), this address only works within your local network. Should you want to access your camera remotely, you’ll need a different one. Configuring your router is step number one. Your router has a unique IP address, assigned to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

All incoming communication ends in the router, and if you want to access any device from your local network remotely, you will need to tell the router which device should the request go to.

You guessed correctly: this process is called port forwarding. The following guide will help you get it up and running.

The guide itself

We covered the theoretical basics of port forwarding, now let’s move on and put it into practice. The first thing you need to know is that apart from the IP address, there is an additional form of identification called the port number. It looks like this: 192.168.1.1:554.

This port number lets you access different services (for example a web server, mail server, FTP server, servers for online games, chat clients, etc.) and even more devices (for example different computers within your local network) with the same service using just one public IP address. With an IP camera, you are most likely to encounter HTTP port (80) for configuration access and MJPEG streaming, and RTSP port (554) for RTSP streaming. If your camera supports RTSP (you can find it in its specification sheet), lucky you – it’s the only port you will need to use.

Setting up port forwarding step by step

  • Look up your router brand and model. Each brand and type has a slightly different user interface.
  • Here’s where you find guides for the majority of routers. Just select the brand, the model and correct service type (RTSP for h.264 cameras or HTTP for MJPEG cameras). Feeling lost? You’ll find dozens of video tutorials on YouTube when you search for “port forwarding BRAND MODEL”
  • Generally speaking, the first thing you need to find is your router’s IP address. This is usually to be found on 192.168.1.1; 192.168.0.1; 192.168.0.254; 192.168.11.1, 10.0.0.1. Just simply enter this address into your web browser while you’re connected to your local network, a login screen should pop up. Can’t find it? Please check your network settings. The router address should be defined as “gateway address”.
  • After you’ve logged in to the configuration interface, look up a tab named “Port forwarding”, “Virtual server”, “NAT” or “Firewall”. In this tab you’ll need to specify the following:- public port: 554 (or 554-554 when a range is required)
    – internal port: 554 (or 554-554 when a range is required)
    protocol: TCP and UDP (or ANY, BOTH)
    – IP address: the private IP address of your camera (192.168.x.x or 10.x.x.x)

    Please note that for MJPEG cameras you’ll need to use port 80 instead of 554. Should you be using multiple cameras in one location, each camera will need to have its own unique port. Feel free to contact our support team if this is the case, we’ll do our best to help you out.

  • When you’re done with these configurations, it’s time to verify that everything’s fine and whether the port is open. You can do it in this open port check tool
  • If you’ve managed to open the port (and we certainly believe you have), your camera should now be detected automatically.

Experiencing any kind of problems during the port forwarding configuration process? Feel free to reach out, we’re always here for you!