Presence: Smart Surveillance Camera

Technology can disrupt an entire industry without even being noticed. The music business didn’t spot the iPod was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and around the world, the taxi industry were caught napping on the rank as Uber rolled in to town. The same thing seems to be happening to the home security business. More and more home security and monitoring equipment is made for DIY install by anyone and the security monitoring business could be next as we can now get live video and alerts straight to our phone.

French company Netamo make a range of products for a safer and more secure home. They’ve just launched their latest outdoor home security camera and light, the Presence and it promises built in intelligence and analysis that was until recently only available to consumers willing to shell out thousands of pounds.

Smart ZonesOpening up the box reveals the presence as a futuristic looking piece of kit with its 8 x 4 inch body, which is a couple of inches deep. As well as its aluminium shell it’s made from resistant UV plastic and glass. Most of this gadget is the LED floodlight, with the small camera lens housed at the bottom of the device.

Also in the box are a mounting kit and a 16GB memory card. As the Presence is powered by mains electricity I had an electrician simply replace my old outdoor light with the presence. It took 15 minutes and once the light was secured we were ready to go. An important consideration for where you place the light is that it requires WiFi, so you need to be sure your wireless range will extend to outside your home.

Once the power is reconnected the camera floodlight lit up and I downloaded the free Netatmo app that manages the camera. Netatmo include a short installation guide but their set up is made so easy via the app and an included QR code that the camera was functioning inside ten minutes.

Camera HD-(fond sombre)-CMJNThe Netatmo app is well designed and it’s easy to figure out where the various functions are. One of the differences with this camera is as well as recording video to the included SD memory card you can set the camera up to automatically save video to Dropbox or to your own server. Most other smart camera makers have a cloud storage feature, but they charge for it, so Netatmo’s move towards making this free via Dropbox is a welcome innovation.

As well as the option to turn on and off the monitoring mode, the app presents you with the ability to view the live stream from the camera but alongside this is a timeline detailing when it saw something, and remarkably, what it saw. I was dubious about this promised feature but it worked really accurately and after a couple of days my timeline indicated different sightings of people, cars and in the interest of research, the next-door neighbour’s dog.

This feature alone sets this camera apart from others, as you can program notifications to be sent to your phone only if a person is seen, and not an animal or any combination you like.

App IncidentsThe camera of course functions as a very adequate, dimmable security light and can be programmed to light up when it detects motion outside, or perhaps only if a car arrives outside. The other stand out feature is the Alert Zone function, where you use the app to define zones. It’s easy to create a zone around a garage door, or a parked car and the camera can be activated if activity occurs in that region.

The camera’s quality is high-definition at 1080p producing clear bright images, and it also functions in the dark with good IR night vision. The only obvious missing feature is audio, and I suspect we’ll see the addition of a speaker on future versions allowing you to communicate with whoever’s at the door.

The Presence is priced reasonably for a good outdoor security camera but when you consider its remarkable ability to distinguish what it sees and the Alert Zones, this camera is very close to being a game changer, for an entire industry.


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