Streaming and recording images and sound? Of course.

When an IP camera allows for the streaming of sound, it usually uses G.711 audio codec (also known as A-Law or μ-Law). This whole concept has just one little downside — no mobile devices and hardly any desktop devices can play these audio codecs.

The IP camera might have been streaming sound, but you had no way to hear it.

We wanted to do something about this, so we improved the angelcam streaming platform and eliminated the problem. The sound track from your IP camera now automatically transcodes to a codec, which is compatible with all mobile and desktop devices.

Whichever camera you connect to angelcam, you’ll have no problem hearing the sound.

What is the difference between MJPEG and H.264?

 

If your IP camera supports both H.264 and MJPEG, you might be asking yourself: which format should I choose?

Let us help.

The technical side of things
The main difference between H.264 and MJPEG is that MJPEG only compresses individual frames of video, while H.264 compresses across frames.

MJPEG is the compilation of separately compressed JPEGs in a sequence, which leads to high quality outcome in terms of resolution.

With H.264, on the other hand, only some frames are compressed by themselves, while most of them only record changes from the previous frame. This can save a significant amount of bandwidth compared to MJPEG (which encodes each frame as new), but results in a video of lower quality.

H.264 pros/cons
+ reduces bandwidth and storage consumption significantly
+ adaptive video quality based on bandwidth
+ suitable for storage
+ / –  complexity setup – sometimes tricky to set up – streaming quality, frame rate and i frame rate. GOP, VBR, CBR etc.

MJPEG pros/cons
+ consistently great image quality
+ robustness, if one frame is dropped, then it does not affect the video
– no sound
– consumes much more bandwidth and storage
– no storage support at angelcam

In conclusion, when it comes to deciding whether to use MJPEG or H.264, it always comes down to what the consumer is looking for and where the camera is being installed. Although H.264 will be the preferred way for many, MJPEG may be a format of choice for those who seek higher quality with crisp details, but can’t support the H.264 stream.

 

Quick tips on how to set up your camera

 

I was wondering what should be the first thing worth mentioning when installing a camera and then something crossed my mind. The main thing is to plan the installation before you buy any camera because there are different aspects that might render some cameras useless for your application.

So here are the main aspects you should consider when installing a camera:

1. Think of the reason of your camera system, plan in advance, buy cameras later. Simply avoid the troubles with bad choice. Angelcam recommends everyone to consider the conditions first and purchase suitable cameras afterwards. Once you appear in the last step “Purchase the camera” you can check our page with recommended cameras.

2. Identifying your camera on the network is easy when you purchase a camera from a well established manufacturer. You get a tool which will scan your network and find the cameras. In other cases you can check if your camera wasn’t detected as a network device (cameras with UPnP presentation enabled) and if you can’t find it, the you would have to scan your network with for example angry IP scanner.

  • For users who are not using a DHCP server to assign IP addresses automatically in the network, each camera should come with a default IP address which should be specified in the user manual.

3. Always install the camera facing the entrance point (door, windows), having a footage of someone’s back won’t help you with the identification.

  • Be careful though, when monitoring windows and doors, you will usually discover that it is not that simple as it might sound. Usually, inside a building it is quite dark while you get a direct beam of light through the windows or when someone opens the door and most cheap cameras don’t handle scenes with high contrast really well.
  • The easiest option is to look for cameras which do come with WDR (Wide Dynamic Range, also called HDR). The problem is that cheap cameras only have a software WDR which has extremely limited capabilities, simply put, the picture is post processed which makes some objects slightly more visible. So either check if this function is acceptable for your installation or get a camera with hardware WDR. Every experienced security company should be able to point you in the right direction in their portfolio. Here is an example of the difference in Axis cameras.

 

 

  • If you still want a cheap camera, there is a solution as well. After you install the camera, go into the image settings and look for for something like exposure settings. You should be able to leave it in automatic mode and select just the area where the window/door is and exclude it. The camera will then correct the exposure settings only to match the light conditions inside the room and when someone enters it, part of the image will be over-exposed but you will see the face instead of just a dark silhouette. Of course it won’t be perfect, you won’t see anything through the window for example.
  • You can use the exposure configuration in all other cases to force the camera to match only the light conditions in the important areas.

4. Don’t install the cameras too high, always make sure you are clearly able to see a person’s face, not just the head, again, it won’t help you with the identification.

  • When you have selected the position for each camera, measure the horizontal angle of view (you don’t have to cover the whole room, just the important areas. Choose your camera according to your measurements, most cheap cameras come with a lens with a fixed focal length, but you can usually pick from 2-4 specific versions of the same camera, each with a different lens and different view angle. A nice online tool for illustration is here: http://www.theiatechnologies.com/calculator.php

 

You already know how to install an IP camera, here are some tips related to camera settings:

1. Resolution: for most indoor applications, you don’t need more than a 1 MPx (720p) camera, you don’t need to pursue the highest resolution, look for a good image quality instead (light sensitivity in Lux in color and B/W mode).

  • Cameras with higher resolution are usually worse in low light conditions, the same amount of light going through the lens is divided to more pixels. It isn’t the universal truth however, budget cameras with higher resolution tend to use next generation sensors, so keep an eye on the datasheet.

2. Frame rate: if it is possible, use the highest available frame rate, lower the framerate only in case you have some bandwidth/storage limitations, in that case, 15 fps is still enough for security purposes, it won’t limit you when identifying a walking/running person.

3. Flickering is also associated with the frame rate, it is caused by difference in the power line frequency (60 or 50Hz depending on the country you live in) and the frame rate and shutter times. Anti-flicker modes sync these values so the picture is not degraded. Be careful, some cameras come in different versions, so not every camera will be able to sync with your powerline frequency.

4. IR illumination: There are not many configuration options in this case, so when installing the camera with an IR illumination, check if there aren’t any surfaces reflecting the IR light back to the camera.

  • Another challenge might arise when a person comes in front of a camera with an IR light on, the face might be overexposed which limits the chance of identifying the person. There isn’t any settings which would help with this, but some more advanced cameras can dynamically reduce the IR light output in the affected cameras making the object in the front more less overexposed.

5. Blurry image at night, in this case the camera is increasing the exposure time too much, making the picture clearer (allowing more light through to the sensor during longer time) but making any movement blurry. Simply decrease the maximum exposure time to 1/15s or so and you shouldn’t get any more blur. Also note that longer exposure time also reduces the framerate (with some exceptions)

6. Streaming settings is usually set to quite a high quality from factory, you just might want to check if the compression is set to h264, that the I-frame (keyframe) frequency is set to roughly 1s (1x the framerate value=usually 30 or 25). If you’re experiencing some issues, it is a good idea to set a maximum bitrate so that the camera doesn’t send too much data, for example at night. For cloud solutions, it is good to keep the maximum around 1500-2000 kbps for a 720p or 1080p camera, for local storage it might be 4000-6000. These are the common values, you need to take into account your connection speed and your storage capacity as well.

7. Connection quality is pretty much connected with the bitrate, most cameras can handle only up to 10 concurrent connections (depending on the stream quality settings), any new connections are refused once this happens. This is however the maximum value, if your stream quality is high, you can observe increased delay, choppy image or even connection loss with as low as 5 connected viewers.

  • This issue can be easily managed by using angelcam live streaming app. Angelcam creates only one connection to your camera and all the other viewers do connect to angelcam servers only.

8. Outdoor/indoor cameras, this basic division just distinguishes which cameras can be mounted outside, in cold/hot environment, working in rainy or dusty conditions. The most common standard for such cameras is called IP66. Cameras marked as IP66 can be mounted outside, but it is still a good idea to check the operating temperature of each camera, the differences can be quite dramatic.

  • When installing an outdoor camera, don’t forget to protect the cable as well, most connectors in cheap camera are not water resistant. Also, any cables should always face downwards, otherwise you risk the water droplets getting into your camera and damaging it.
  • Clearly visible outdoor cameras act as a prevention system, when someone notices that the house is being monitored, he is likely to find another object which is less risky getting into. Having said that, always make yourself familiar with your local laws, in some countries, you’re not allowed to monitor public areas.

All clear, but don’t have a camera yet? Feel free to check our recommended cameras.

I hope this helped, however if you should have any questions, feel free to contact me or our team via our Live chat. We are ready & happy to help!

Important product updates

Thanks to your input we’re constantly improving our product. Usually it’s a bunch of minor changes each week that you probably didn’t even notice. But we’ve just released a handful of improvements which will positively affect your experience with angelcam, so please check these out.

  • Live View – another reason to connect all your cameras
  • Responsive video player
  • Sound on mobile devices
  • New player design

Read on for the full scoop!

 

Live View – ANother reason to connect all your cameras

With Angelcam, now you can view live streams from all cameras, no matter what brand or device. So go ahead and connect all your cameras and then choose one or more of the apps from our app-store: broadcasting, cloud storage, time-lapse and more.

angelcam liveview

We’re gradually rolling out a following updates over time to all users. If you still don’t have these features accessible and you desperately need any of these them, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll upgrade your account preferentially.

Responsive VIDEO player

For live streaming app users: Your player will never be wider than the screen, because it will change size automatically. Especially useful on mobile devices. But on the other side, it could have exactly the same width as the screen.

Sound on mobile devices

In the past, we only supported sound streaming on desktops. Now you can hear your security camera’s sound across all mobile devices.

Player design

During these days we will change the design of all streaming players. If you have any questions, please contact our support.

 

As always, let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.

There’s more on the way…

Three industry trends from the biggest security show ISC West in Las Vegas

About ISC

ISC is a traditional security show focused on security, especially video surveillance, access control systems and devices related to security & automation

The event is organized on three different locations worldwide, we attended three times already. This time we had our own stand accompanied with our excited team on ISC West Las Vegas.

It was simply huge. Over 1,000 exhibitors had their booth there. It seemed like all important and wanna-be-important companies were there. I visited most of the booths and my team talked to more than two hundred visitors at our booth too. Here are our thoughts.

Three trends from ISC West 2015

  1. More solutions increasing efficiency of video compression

Internet upload connectivity means still some limitation for higher adoption of pure cloud based video platforms. This is also the reason why angelcam is focused to customers with up to 10-20 cameras on one location. We can see two main solutions for this pain:

  • Zipstream by AXIS
  • h.265

Both promising up to 50% increase in video compression efficiency. This means that same video quality with lower bandwidth or higher video quality with the same bandwidth consumption. We’ll cover these technologies later on our blog [subscribe for updates here] in more detail, so for now I’ll say only:

Zipstream is on the market for some time. It works with selected AXIS camera models, supports all existing solutions (inc. angelcam) and video players supporting h.264. To be mentioned Zipstream smarter bandwidth consumption works just when used with h.264 codec.

We saw tons of h.265 supported cameras at the show. When h.265 is so great why it’s still not widely adopted by the ecosystem? Crucial is the video player compatibility for web and mobile devices. It’s 2015 – Flash should be gone by now, right? 🙂 Despite that we believe in h.265 and have plans on supporting it in the near future.

 zipstream (1)   DSC_9952DSC_9966

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. More Korean camera manufacturers

Chinese guys “owned the show”! Countless booths of small manufacturerst and OEMs and big successful brands like Dahua and Hikvision flooded the show. What was visible too is plenty of new Korean producers entering the market. Partially because of the support from Korean government. Chinese and Korean manufacturers often offer very similar range of products and both usually do the same mistakes: their booths are pretty similar, boring and most importantly – staff’s English & excitement definitely doesn’t stand to US standards ;(

It’s a bit sad as we see a decent demand from our resellers and customers for more affordable cameras.

06 (1)

  1. More products supporting industry standards

People want to use different hardware and software suppliers. They want to combine them as one can be great at something where others have weaknesses. Something like that was not possible when manufacturer decided to avoid industry standards. They were basically trying to lock customer to their products. One famous example in our industry is Dropcam. We’re happy that more and more manufacturers chose the opposite way and decided to become open to other products & platforms (e.g. Mobotix is opening their cameras).

At ISC West we were pleased to see that almost every device has an open API or other industry standards for communication with the rest of the world: RTSP, ONVIF, Zigbee. The last two named have their own standalone booths as well:

DSC_0006

ONVIF is an industry standard that helps platforms and recording devices communicate with cameras (from technical perspective it’s just API). Zigbee is a communication standard that allows devices to communicate with each other, particularly useful for home automation.

At Angelcam we are continuously looking for opportunities within these standards and machine to machine (M2M) integrations. To provide an example, one of the most requested features from our customers is turning off the video recording when specific people are present in the house/office. This requires integration between alarm system and recording device. We are currently working on a prototype for this specific use case. Stay tuned for more info soon.

These were my three spotted trends from ISC West in Vegas. I would be happy to hear your observations about current trends.

Happy recording! 🙂

PS: We’re heading to one of the top computer vision conferences, CVPR in Boston. Schedule a meeting with us or subscribe for the blog updates so you get notified when we cover this story.

 

Peter Ocasek

CEO, Angelcam

peter@angelcam.com

Mobotix is opening their cameras to make integration with open platform systems easier

mobotix logo

I was excited to hear that new Mobotix CEO announced they’ll finally open their cameras. This will make Mobotix camera owners definitely happier. Today you can find their customers complaining on support forums. And few of them, the most experienced, are sharing the horrific procedures hacking the lack of industry standards h.264 & RTSP. Soon they’ll be able to use any open platform, including Angelcam, to get more value from their cameras using any application from any developer.

Klaus Gessman, who became Mobotix CFO in 2013 and CEO in February 2014, comment his decision:

“It is a complete strategy change for Mobotix. We used to say that we didn’t care about H.264, ONVIF and so on – we’ll go our own way with Mobotix, including with our outstanding video codec. But then you have to convince customers who have already invested in a huge way in – let’s say Avigilon Vision or analogue systems – get rid of those and use only Mobotix systems. … We would take care of H.264 on all cameras. … I want to be open in the market.”
 

Our company always have “openness” as one of our values. The ability to connect any hardware to any software can mean more competition for suppliers, but we strongly believe that it brings many new opportunities for them too. It’s not only about providing freedom to your customers to change the supplier anytime. Today with the world of connected devices (and APIs and platforms like IFTTT or Zapier), openness is mainly about letting users to do with their cameras much more than any closed system will ever offer.

Just imagine some really useful use cases. Switching on Philips’s WiFi enabled light when camera detects movement during night hours? Switching off the video recording when you come to your office? Receiving a push notification to your smartphone, when a car with unknown car-plate number parked on your reserved parking lot? There are thousands of different use cases any company can make a use of.

I’m very happy that our team is part of this huge movement.

Get Inspired By How Others Use Their IP Cameras

We at angelcam are all about getting more from security cameras, especially when it serves a good purpose…which is exactly what’s happening right now in India! Check out what Jaganmohan Kataru from watchlive.in does in order to make parents feel safe about their kids. Who knows, maybe the story will inspire you to do the same thing in your town!

The mission

Jaganmohan’s goal is very clear.

“We want to offer transparency of the school administration to parents, providing the ability to see a child whenever they want and wherever they want.”

In other words, the parents are able to connect to a live stream from their kids’ school and see if everything’s OK, any time of the day. Since children’s safety is one of the Indian government’s (and people’s) top priorities, this is a great step forward.

Pretty cool, right?

This is how they do it

They (and you as well, should you decide to follow Jaganmohan’s example) only need 3 things to get the project up and running: an IP camera, Internet connection and angelcam.

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. 🙂

When creating something like watchlive.in, an IP camera in every classroom is crucial  of course. That’s the “eye” of the whole thing, but it still needs a “brain”. And that’s where we step in with one of our apps, the Live Streaming.

This article is all about inspiring you with what an IP camera can do, so let’s skip the details. After all, you can explore them later.

Oh and there’s one important thing that we feel needs to be said: the streaming is, of course, completely safe and  protected by each parent’s unique password, so no “unauthorized” person gets to watch it.

What now?

IP cameras are indeed sophisticated devices. However, you’d be surprised by how much more they can do with such little effort from your side when enriched with the right software!

Should you be interested in exploring ours, you can start right from this place or you can contact us at anytime.

Talk to you soon!

Meet angelcam team at ISC West – booth 30092

 

ISC West

Have you heard about ISC West? What a silly question, of course you have! It’s “THE largest security industry trade show in the U.S.”, and we have no doubt about that.

That’s why…

… you’ll get the unique chance to meet a part of the angelcam team in person:)

Our CEO Peter, partnership success director Kate, product marketing manager Monica and partnership manager Luke are all on their way to Las Vegas.

Their mission: to get to know you!

You might have a question or two about our existing apps. You’d like to get a sneak peek of what we’re working on – whether ourselves or in cooperation with our partners. Or you feel like teaming up with us and becoming our reseller is a pretty good idea.

Whatever the reason or question, look for booth 30092 to get answers. Yep, that’s where we’ll be hanging out at this year’s ISC West.

Stop by, we’re looking forward to having a chat with you!

 

ISC East

Get To Know Our Apps: Time-Lapse

Since you ended up reading our blog, you likely know a thing or two about IP cameras. Way to go! However, some of you might be new to what we call “the world’s first app-store for IP cameras”. We decided to step in and try to make it as clear as possible in a few articles.

So?

So this is the first blog post from a series where we are going to introduce our apps one by one, give you useful tips on what you can achieve with them and inspire you to explore new ways of using your IP camera.

Without further ado, let’s get into it and start with the first one, the Time-Lapse!

 

Time-lapse video from an IP camera? Really?

Yep. Most of you are probably used to creating time-lapse videos with a regular camera. We’re definitely not saying you should stop it right away, however…

… When we were working on our Time-Lapse app (in cooperation with our friends from 6artisans) the goal was pretty clear: come up with something that enables you to use your security camera with the same result, but with less hassle and more intuitive ways to work with the final “product”.

Did we succeed? Feel free to find out for yourself🙂

 

A bit of inspiration – this is where you find Time-Lapse useful

It’s not that we are trying to limit your fantasies, however, we found out that Time-Lapse users have several favorite “topics” that can inspire you:

  • Open-air festivals. A time-lapse video from a 3-day summer festival looks just great!
  • Construction sites. Time-lapse is a cool way to document the entire building process.
  • Summer resorts. It turns out that many resort owners have gotten to like time-lapse videos to show how lively their place is during peak season.

Got more tips? Leave us a comment;)

 

 What’s next?

As we said at the beginning, this is the first blog post from the series that has just started. In the upcoming weeks you are going to find out how one of the most prestigious Czech universities used Time-Lapse to document an event, what you should bear in mind when setting up a new recording, and we’ll also share some time-lapse best practices with you.

Stay tuned!

CES 2015 – what we learned from over 40 camera manufacturers

 

ces

CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is one of the world’s biggest gathering of consumer technology innovators. And when I say one of the biggest, I mean it’s really, really huge!

More than 160,000 people flew to Las Vegas this year to get some serious business done. Angelcam was there too, and I personally talked to over 40 camera manufacturers. I also spent some time talking to home automation platforms, because I was very curious to get to know how they will use cameras in 2015, but let’s leave this topic for another blog post;)

As CES is very focused on consumers, big players like Axis, Dahua, Hikvision or Tyco skipped the show completely, and others like Foscam, D-Link & ICRealtech/ICRealtime were just introducing home cameras and having private meetings.

To be honest, nothing interesting happened at CES in terms of hardware. But I found these 3 highlights you might find interesting as well.

CES WIFI/IP CAMERA HIGHLIGHTS

1) Sengled – now releasing smart lighting with IP camera including smartphone surveillance app with face recognition.

2015-01-06 10.58.38

2) Giroptic – 360° wifi camera with sd card for outdoor fun as well as home security when you replace your light bulb with it.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 21.48.34

3) Skybell – quite a few of such doorbells made their appearance at CES, this one was the most interesting piece. Pretty handy for the delivery and for just checking up on your home or your office frontdoor.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 22.59.16

THE BIGGEST LEARNING FROM CES 2015: P2P is getting very articulated within Asian manufacturers 

I was quite surprised when I entered the Asian Pavilion and started talking to Shenzhen manufacturers.

Almost half of them said they had just launched their P2P (peer-to-peer) with their own servers in US, Europe & China! Yet they hadn’t connected all of their camera types.

They have started with cameras that are intended to be used for homes, so we will see if they can scale it. None of these manufacturers have their own cloud storage yet, but some of them said it was going to change in the next 1 – 3 years.

This movement may also be caused by the fact that Chinese manufacturers are “not just camera cases & chips assemblers” any more, they started founding their own development departments.

The way I see it, this is one big step towards cloud becoming the new standard in the near future.

Just to name a few Asian exhibitors with P2P: Foscam & Fostar (btw. they are the same company), Tenvis, WansviewZ-ben, Sopooda, CSST DIT & 10 others.

2015-01-07 11.40.51

Well, that’s pretty much it! Looking forward to bringing you more news from other upcoming events like ISC WestIFSEC and others.

Stay tuned!

PS: If you want to hear more about CES or just want to learn about angelcam partnerships, reach me at: kate@angelcam.com or add me on Skype: kate_pljaskovova

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