By Ralph Thomas
It's about to happen! Actually, it's already happening. Those of us who
watch the cutting edge of technology as it relates to our profession knew
it was coming. Video surveillance over the telephone line and over the Internet
is here! Don't fret! A lot of this stuff just seems kind of complicated
but it's really not that hard to figure it out. A year or so ago I got a
little Connectix digital black and white camera that plugs into the printer
port of my computer and got a lot of wow's but it wasn't until I rewired
the thing into a preconfigured modem and sent actual video down a telephone
line receiving it on the other end on a computer screen that I saw some
real value. I had to do it because I called a high tech supplier of mine
and he kept telling me I needed an "ISDN line". At the time, I
really didn't know what an ISDN line was above and beyond the fact that
they were too expensive and I'm taking only-Donald Trumpt-can-afford-one-expensive.
So I took my little Connectix black and white QuickCam, figured a way to
wire a modem to it and configured the modem to answer the line. I then patched
the software that came with the QuickCam into my modem and low and behold,
a slow resolution time laps video from the QuickCam was getting displayed
on my screen. Presto-I had video surveillance through the telephone line!
As you can see, I have gotten intrigued by the idea setting up a digital camera, hooking it up to the telephone line and monitoring it remotely in a dial up manner from another distant location. Here is the equipment you need for this high tech project
EQUIPMENT FOR SURVEILLANCE SITE
So there you have it! Your remote monitoring site basically consists of a camera that's either a digital camera or has an analog to digital converter on it, a high speed modem and a telephone line. Plug the thing in and configure everything correctly and you have it.
On the other side, you'll have to of course have some more equipment.
EQUIPMENT FOR MONITORING SITE
This type of thing is being done and being done quite well. A year or so ago you had to have Donald Trump type access to funds to set this type of system up but prices have fallen drastically.
Believe it or not, this type of thing is being done on the Internet. I mean, you can take one of these cameras and have a live picture on a web site. If you don't believe me, go look at the following sites yourself.
LIVE VIDEO SURVEILLANCE ON THE NET
Well not quite yet but it's just around the corner and things are moving fast! If you want to see the upcoming video surveillance over telephone lines and the internet in action, check out these sites:
SAN DIEGO BAY
This site features a live video of San Diego Bay in full color.
BERKLEY'S KITCHEN CAM
Berkeley are the people who brought us all those famous computer screen savers. They have a live video in their sight of their company kitchen.
Connectix are the people who developed Ram Doubler and Speed Doubler software and the first digital computer camera for mass markets. They recently released a color digital camera that plugs into the modem or printer port of your computer that is easy to use. You get software that can make their QuickCam a time laps video machine. Since these digital video cameras are under $200.00 with software, they have become very popular. Connectix is the company to watch as they have a stand alone video camera under development that will have a built in modem. You simply will install the small camera, plug it into a telephone line and then access the surveillance camera with your computer on the other end of the telephone line.
Connectix has a page at the above Internet site that is called FISHCAM. It lets you view a live picture of their fish tank with a swimming fish in full color. It's rather slow but it works.
WHERE TO GET THIS STUFF
First I would recommend stopping by Connectix's web site to see what's new. Like the Netscape Site, developments are happening fast. I will never forget the first time a played with a Connectix video camera. For $99.00 a got a little digital camera the size of a tennis ball that plugged into the back of my printer port. It came with software to do stills or time laps. For months I would e-mail people snap shots of myself talking to them in chat and got a great deal of, "say how did you do that." It wasn't until I took the thing apart and hooked it into a modem line configured correctly and then went to another location and dialed in with another computer that I saw it's real value- video surveillance over the telephone line. Now they have a color camera and some video phone software and they are promising a QuickCam camera with a built in modem in the near future so what them.
Another very interesting company to watch is Win. Win is a Taiwan company that has developed a video digitizer and software along with a surveillance camera that makes this technology a reality without the Donald Trump can only afford it pricing. Actually, their pricing is very low. Check the Win web site for more information and developments. On it, you'll find all their products and even free software that makes the whole thing work.
FREE SOFTWARE CAN BE DOWNLOADED AT THE WIN SITE
WIN'S VIDEO DIGITIZER
NAIS INVESTIGATIVE EQUIPMENT SECTION
I already mentioned it but I want to say it again. Almost all cameras can be converted from analog to digital. For three years I have plugged 8 MM video cameras and pinhole cameras into the back of my office computer and shot all the photographs found in the PI Catalog in this manner and e-mailed them to various people. I'd suggest reviewing the video surveillance equipment under the NAIS equipment section on the web.
MICO PINHOLE CAMERAS AS SHOWN ABOVE CAN BE
USED AS DIGITAL CAMERAS
This should give you a good idea of where video surveillance is going these days. If you want to back a little off the cutting edge with all this through the telephone line remote surveillance stuff and simply settle for going wireless with these tiny pinhole cameras, it can easily be done and the wireless video sender that is setting new standards is the VideoLink.
THE NEW VIDEOLINK SETS NEW STANDARDS IN
GOING WIRELESS WITH VIDEO SURVEILLANCE
MORE GOOD NEWS-ISDN LINES COME WAY DOWN IN PRICE SO PEOPLE OTHER THAN DONALD TRUMP CAN GET ONE!
I have to admit, I had to go to one of my favorite book publishers to figure out what everyone was talking about when they mentioned ISDN telephone lines. (My favorite line of books lately has been IDG Books who publish a line of "For Dummies" books.) I found one called ISDN For Dummies and found out what in the world my high tech man was mumbo-jumboing about. ISDN stands for Integrated Services Digital Network. That's nice to know but it really doesn't tell you anything so all we have is more mumbo-jumbo best left to more techno-geeks. ISDN is actually a digital telephone line that gives you much wider band width. I know what your next question is likely to be, the same as mine was (well then, what the heck is band width). Well, sending high resolution video and audio down a regular telephone line is a little like rush hour traffic in Houston, Texas. There's just too much on the highway to have a good speed so things slow down. ISDN solves this problem by turning your one lane telephone line, if you will, into a ten lane super highway. You can achieve speeds of 28.8 bps (and that's just the rate of speed a modem transmits but techno-nerds are still arguing about the difference between baud rates and bps rates) on a regular telephone line and that's about it. With an ISDN line, you can get ten times that speed, be sending and receiving video and still have enough room left to make or receive a telephone call all on the same line.
ISDN lines are coming way down in price in the USA. A year ago, they wanted a couple of grand to install one and close to $1,000 per month. Now in some areas you can get free installation and a rate of less than $100.00 a month.
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