What's New in Technology for January 2004

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Setting up surveillance systems to monitor your retail locations or offices used to be a somewhat clumsy and complicated business. Now, thanks to the spread of 802.11 wireless networks in businesses and homes, and the connectivity provided by the Internet, you can view images or watch video on your PC at home, or anywhere in the world where you have access to the Internet. Easy to use and operate, these wireless network cameras provide peace of mind and, with prices ranging from under $300 to around $700, they offer affordable security for small businesses.

Here’s how wireless surveillance can help you keep an eye on things at your office, retail outlets, warehouses -- or even your home -- when you can’t be there yourself.

Setting up Your System
Compact network cameras, which are compatible with standard 802.11 wireless devices, can be installed in the premises you wish to monitor. Most are about 5 inches in height and width, offer remote pan and tilt capability, and may be mounted virtually anywhere, inside or out. These new-generation surveillance cameras require only an Ethernet connection and power source -- no onsite computer is necessary. Each network camera has a built-in web server with an Internet Provider address. Connecting the camera to the Internet requires you to have an Internet account. To access the data from a remote location, all you need is a regular web browser, though you may need additional hardware such as a cable or DSL modem or a hub or router with a 10base-T Ethernet connection. All other software required is built into each camera.

Though easier to install than old-fashioned systems, setting up the network cameras yourself is do-able, but some systems may be a little tricky and you do need to be conversant with basic wireless and computer terminology.

Using the System
Operating and viewing is simple and easy. To view images from the site you are monitoring, you just open your web browser (which needs graphics capability) and type in the password and Internet address for the camera you wish to access. Various camera models offer different features but the package usually will upload images, audio and video to the web site, and also will send emails to any address you specify or save data to your hard drive.

Please note that your Internet connection must be active for you to access the camera, and that the frame rate of the image is dependent upon the uplink speed of your Internet connection as well as other factors.

Business owners who travel a lot are able to monitor their business premises on the road using any Internet-enabled device including hand-held PCs or cell phone. Be aware
that in order to perform this function, some hand-held devices may require you to purchase web browser software and that not all models are suitable for such upgrading.

Video monitoring over the Internet is currently a fairly small segment of the overall wireless LAN market, but industry observers believe that demand will grow significantly as more and more businesses and homes discover the benefits of wireless networking. They also note that the increasing prevalence of “hot spots” in locations like coffee shops and airport lounges will help drive demand for network cameras. These “hot spots” allow travelers equipped with a PDA or a notebook to quickly and easily check the security status of their business, store or home.

There is no shortage of systems for smaller businesses to choose from at prices starting at under $300. On the higher price end, Toshiba offers models with a privacy mask to screen sensitive areas and—through the use of 1.45 Mega-pixel ½inch CCD—extremely crisp, clear video transmission. Panasonic also offers the latest models with a range of features. There are many other manufacturers--large and small--offering a range of different systems. To get some idea of the range of products available and various prices, check out: You can also find useful product and price information under “web cameras” at:


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