I Spy With My Little Wi-Fi
The cost of video surveillance for your home, office or home/office environs is going down, and the technology is going wireless. A spate of new Wi-Fi cams, like the $200 (all prices street) Linksys Wireless-B Internet Video Camera (WVC11B) and the $130 D-Link DCS-900 Video Monitoring Internet Camera, are sinking prices and eliminating wiring chores.
These devices still need a wall plug, since 24/7 battery operation would be impractical. But they're considerably more convenient than the wired cams that have gained popularity with small and midsize businesses. Wi-Fi cams broadcast to a Net connection like any Wi-Fi access point, their video streams viewed with a Web browser. Mike Wolf, In-Stat/MDR principal analyst in Scottsdale, Arizona, expects more than 15 million security cams to be sold in 2004.
About the size of a paperback, these cams have less-than-pleasing video frame rates and image windows. But most vendors provide toll-free support 24/7, and after sometimes-confusing configuration details are worked out, operation is generally trouble-free.
"They will acquire much better images as the prices of their components come down and manufacturing volumes go up," predicts Wolf, who adds that Wi-Fi cams are just the first of a whole host of other non-PC "appliances" that will be wirelessly networked in months to come.