By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Startup WiLife has launched what it calls the first HomePlug-enabled consumer video-surveillance system, which is said to bring consumer video security to the mainstream.
WiLife's LukWerks surveillance kit offers consumers an inexpensive video monitoring system that is easy to use and set up, the company said. The system is said to be ideal for monitoring a second home, office, private area or hidden section of a retail store.
Built on the HomePlug powerline-networking standard, the system connects cameras to a PC located anywhere in a home or building by plugging them into a nearby power outlet.
Cameras can be located at various corners of the home or property and monitored over the Internet or via automatic e-mail alerts generated after a camera picks up motion in a camera's frame. Still images or video clips can be relayed to users automatically via Internet-enabled cellphones or personal electronic devices.
CEO Andrew Hartsfield said WiLife initially planned to build a system based on wireless technology — explaining the company's name — but discovered that HomePlug offered more benefits to the end user. First, he said, HomePlug has embedded security to protect sensitive images from being intercepted.
“With wireless analog and even digital systems, there is no security. Anyone can set up a laptop outside the house and intercept the signal,” he said. “But with HomePlug, you need actual physical contact with the powerline to even attempt to intercept the images.”
Additionally, Hartsfield said, HomePlug is more reliable than wireless systems. HomePlug connections don't suffer from dead spots, he observed.
As for wired surveillance systems, he added, “In the surveillance space, you want to place security cameras in every corner of your house — the front yard, the back yard, the garage, etc. Consumers aren't going to want to run cable from the camera to wherever the head end is.”
The LukWerks system offers an easy four-step setup process, said president Evan Tree. This involves plugging in a receiver, loading software in a PC, plugging the cameras in, and signing up for the free Web-based remote viewing service that enables monitoring the cameras outside the house. The whole process can take as little as 15 minutes, said Tree.
The company is also preparing to launch an external camera for outdoor positioning.
The remote viewing page can be programmed to capture video images when motion is detected in a frame. Motion images are recording to the connected PC's hard drive and automatically sent as a video clip or still image via e-mail to the user's e-mail account for retrieval by a cellphone, laptop or Windows Mobile device.
The LukWerks starter kit containing a single camera carries a $299.99 suggested retail price. Each additional camera is priced at $229.99. Each system allows up to six cameras at a time.
Typically, retailers are positioning the LukWerks kit in the video surveillance sections of the store — such as RadioShack — or in or near home networking products.
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