A wireless IP camera tutorial explaining the basics of wireless IP camera deployment for surveillance and security camera applications.

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Understanding Wireless IP Cameras

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for many manufacturer's wireless IP video surveillance cameras.
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Wireless IP cameras provide an easy-to-install and easy-to-control solution for video surveillance. In the past, cameras were connected to controllers using coaxial cable with images being transmitted as analog signals just like cable television. The "CCTV" (Closed Circuit Television) camera, while still in use, is being replaced by the more efficient and easy-to-integrate digital IP camera.

As camera deployment became easier the applications for remote surveillance grew. In the past, cameras were predominantly used for security purposes. They could be used for real-time monitoring and for acquisition of video evidence for use when prosecuting an offender. The security and forensic use of cameras remains significant today but many other applications have evolved. These include:

  • Construction Site Monitoring: Theft and vandalism at construction sites is a major problem Asset protection using video surveillance provides both a deterrent and a forensic resource for construction companies.
  • Traffic and Transportation System Monitoring: Cameras on traffic light poles and for subway or train tunnels and tracks allow observation of vehicle movement to help alleviate congestion and improve safety
  • Employee Monitoring: Using video surveillance to monitor employees goes beyond simply making sure someone isn't stealing from the cash register. Video helps with the assessment of workflow efficiency, compliance with regulatory requirements, confirmation that appropriate methods are being used for product preparation and other roles in which the goal of surveillance is to provide management feedback.
  • Remote Telepresence: Using cameras to provide a view to a remote site that is not easily accessible goes beyond simply providing security. The operation of industrial equipment or the effects of a storm on a mountain top weather station or any other situation where it's important to see what's going on but nobody's there - all are goals of remote telepresence using video (and audio!) surveillance.
Understanding Camera Specifications
Lux Rating "Lux" is the metric unit for measuring the amount of light that falls on an object and is the equivalent of the British "foot-candle" or "lumen". There are some differences in the three units of measurement but they are essentially measuring the same thing. The problem is that for a given lux rating there is no standard description for the quality of the resulting image. The rating could refer to black-and-white images and the quality could be very grainy. The Electronic Industries Association (EIA) has introduced a new standard (EIA-639) that provides consistency between various manufacturer's specifications of "lux rating." Such a measurement would be listed as "EIA-639 Lux rating" in a manufacturer's specifications.
Lux Measurement Abbreviation Example
0.001 lux 1 mlx Starlight on a clear, moonless night
0.25 lux 250 mlx Full moon on a clear night
3 lux 3 lx Dark limit of civil twilight under a clear sky
50 lux 50 lx A residential living room at night with soft interior lighting
80 lux 80 lx Lighting in a residential or commercial bathroom
400 lux 4 hlx A brightly lit office area
32000 lux 32 klx Sunlight on a clear day
CCD Size The CCD ("Charge Coupled Device") is the component inside the camera that captures the image and converts it into into a data stream. Light striking the CCD passes through the camera's lens and, as a consequence, the image produced by the CCD can be no better than the image focused by the lens. Camera specifications list the diameter of the CCD. Most surveillance cameras fall between 1/4" and 1". For most security systems a CCD size of between 1/4" and 1/3" will provide excellent results. A larger CCD doesn't necessarily result in a higher quality image - it simply means the camera can gather more light in dimly lit situations.

Resolution refers to the level of detail that the camera can see an can be specified by the horizontal and vertical pixel size or by the number of equivalent television lines in the image (TVL). Typical pixel size values may be 160 X 120, 320 X 240, 640 X 480. An ultra-high resolution camera, as might be used by law enforcement or long-range "video content analysis" (VCA) with facial recognition technology, may provide resolution up to 1600 X 1200 pixels. Resolution specified relative to broadcast television uses a "TVL" number. A standard (non-HD) television image is composed of 480 horizontal lines. A TVL of 480 implies that the image will have the same quality as a non-HD black-and-white television.

Aperture Size Designated by a "F" number (i.e. f/8, f/16) the value refers to the relationship between the diameter of the entrance pupil (the aperture size) of the lens and the distance from the lens to the CCD (the "focal length"). The greater the f-number the LESS light per unit area reaches the CCD. Doubling the f-number decreases the available light by a factor of 4 (inverse-square relationship). Aperture size of F 1.8 is typical
Lens Size This specification refers to the diameter of the camera lens. A larger lens allows more light to enter the camera.
Automatic Iris The iris is the element in the camera lens mechanism that controls how much light reaches the CCD. Outdoor cameras must have an automatic iris to accommodate changing illumination levels from morning to night and on bright versus overcast days. If the level of illumination never changes then a manual iris is suitable. For example, in a retail store, office space, or school the light level is constant when the space is occupied.
Frame Rate This is the number of images that are transmitter each second. The human eye doesn't perceive the individual images above a rate of roughly 24 fps.
Smart Monitoring A "smart" DVR recording system can be configured to minimize the size of archived video. For example, the system could capture a single JPEG image of an area once every five seconds unless motion is detected. When something moves in the camera's field of view the recording switches back to full frame rate (15 or 30 frames per second).
6 30-40 200-500
352 x 288 720 x 576 720 x 576
25-30 fps 50-60 fps 25-30 fps

IP cameras can be used in professional security systems and enable live video to be viewed remotely by authorized personnel. The IP cameras are easily integrated into larger, complex systems, but can also function as stand-alone solutions in entry-level surveillance applications. IP cameras can be used for surveillance of sensitive areas, such as buildings, casinos, banks and shops. Video of those areas can be monitored from relevant control rooms, at police stations and by security managers from a variety of locations. IP cameras are also effective substitutes for analog cameras in traditional applications, such as keeping public places safe. IP cameras can be used for access control. People as well as vehicles can be recorded with time stamps that are easy to locate and review. The images can be stored in a remote location, making it impossible to steal the information.

IP cameras are easily connected to the existing IP network and enable real-time updates of high-quality video to be accessible from any computer on the network. Sensitive areas such as the server room, the reception area or any remote site can be closely monitored in a cost-effective and simple way, over the local network or via the internet. IP cameras enhance the monitoring of a retail location by ensuring that everything is in good order. An IP camera is a useful tool at the office. Areas like the reception area, and conference rooms can be monitored for activity. In addition, users can keep track of who has been in the server room and take appropriate action when problems occur. IP cameras are useful tools for the industry. Monitor robots, other machines and production lines from the office or home and allow service engineers to access the cameras remotely. With Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras it is possible to look at comprehensive as well as detailed views.

A professional network camera can send up to eight Mbps (megabits per second) of data over the network, depending on compression, size and frame rate. In order to reduce this, users can utilize the built-in intelligence in the network camera to reduce the size and speed of images transmitted over the network. A network camera can be configured to make "decisions" about video resolution and frame rate, depending on factors such as motion detection and time of day. For example, motion detected at 1 a.m. on Saturday morning - when no one should be in the office - can trigger the camera to transmit the highest resolution video at the highest frame rate. On the other hand, motion detected at 1 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, would be considered "normal" and would not trigger an increase in resolution or frame rate.


Who says video surveillance cameras are only for crime prevention? Used the right way and stationed properly, they can be a very fearsome tool for marketing and advertising. Experts the whole world over are now utilizing video surveillance cameras to make better informed decisions about safety, check compliance to standards, rake in more sales, and improve customer service.

The following are some of the uses for video surveillance cameras in the business world.

1. Compliance monitoring
Compliance monitoring is useful in industries where standard operating procedures have to be strictly followed. Through video surveillance cameras, managers of restaurants or hotels can determine whether or not their staffs are following proper sanitation measures. They can also check if their chefs are observing proper food handling and preparation procedures. Video surveillance cameras are also very useful in cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. They can monitor vital parts of the production process, such as processing and packing.

2. Construction progress monitoring
Video surveillance cameras mounted in construction areas allow project managers to show construction progress to clients, investors, and stakeholders. Because a construction site is hardly an environment conducive for surveillance, the cameras being used should be weatherproof. Additionally, it is recommended that you use video surveillance cameras that have infrared and lowlight capabilities, so that nighttime images can be captured clearly.

3. Performance monitoring
This is the most popular use for video surveillance cameras in the workplace. With the use of video surveillance cameras, companies can keep an eye on employee's on-the-job performance and their use of company time. In addition, video surveillance helps management identify customer patterns. This is particularly useful in restaurants, where managers have to identify peak hours during the day so as to maximize scheduling arrangements.

4. Traffic regulation and systems monitoring
Video surveillance technology in the form of photo enforcement, for example, helps officials recognize traffic flow and congestion areas. In some cities, camera images of streets and important routes are displayed on websites, to help drivers anticipate traffic problems.

5. Remote telepresence
This use of video surveillance cameras requires that the cameras be positioned in locations not accessible to humans. Examples of these locations include the ocean, the bottom of the sea, desert landscapes, or the insides of a human body. Data from this highly specialized use of video surveillance cameras are used in various practical applications, such as solving medical problems, investigating disputes over natural resources, saving endangered species, and studying the behavior of life forms thriving in their natural environments.

6. Improved customer relations
Video surveillance cameras clue management in on the type of attitude staff members are projecting towards customers. In department stores, for example. video surveillance cameras show how customers are greeted and how their questions are answered.

7. Marketing
Nothing beats the performance and dependability of video surveillance cameras at compiling demographic data of malls, resorts, amusement parks, and tourist attractions. Another usage for these cameras is identification of traffic pattern. For example, a department store could use video surveillance cameras to track foot traffic so that they can position their merchandise in key zones. These key zones are places at a clothing store, for instance, that receive the most human traffic.

It has been said that a weapon is only as deadly as its user. The same is true of video surveillance cameras. It exists as a modern marketing and advertising tool, but it will only be effective to the extent you allow it to be.

[This article reprinted courtesy of Ezine@ezinearticles]