Bandwidth Efficiency: The Next-Gen Solution for IP Cams


A quick Google search will reveal a dizzying array of do-it-yourself IP camera surveillance products that offer consumers the convenience of being able to see what’s going on at home from anywhere in the world, from an internet-enabled device.

Most of those cloud-based video monitoring systems either upload a constant stream of high-def video, or use very basic motion detection to limit recording (meaning they record even the slightest scene change and are therefore recording nearly constantly anyway).

The only problem is, both approaches are a huge drag on a home network.

24/7 Streaming Can Cause Network Drag

Constant streaming of video from one or more cameras can affect a household’s ability to use their network for other high-demand tasks, such as streaming movies or playing online games.

This is significant because, as of 2013, a staggering 55% of households in the US subscribed to some kind of streaming video service.

Wireless internet, especially satellite internet, is most vulnerable to network drag, because both the core network and the access network are shared, and bandwidth is relatively narrow to begin with.

24/7 Streaming Can Burn Through Bandwidth

If subscribers to a streaming video service also have internet bandwidth caps, they can quickly use up their monthly ration and risk paying steep charges if they go over. Add to that the demands of several continuously-streaming IP cams and the picture gets ugly.

According to Netflix’s own estimates, streaming HD movies consumes up to 3 GB per hour. As many as 88% of their users report having watched three or more episodes of a TV show in one day. It would be very easy to consume 150 GB a month by watching just two hours of internet video a day.

While most people in the US have never experienced data caps, they’re coming in the foreseeable future, according to those in the know. AT&T, Comcast, and Time Warner have all tested data caps and broadband metering to some extent in the past several years.

Bandwidth Efficiency: The Next-Gen Solution

What all this means is, we need a better, more bandwidth-efficient alternative to 24/7 continuous recording in order to meet the challenges of the not-so-distant future.

That’s where video analytics comes in. An IP surveillance system that uses sophisticated video analytics software to detect significant activity (as defined by the user) and filter out meaningless activity (read more about the importance of accurate video analytics) is the solution to bloated behemoths that gobble up bandwidth. The right software can give an IP security camera surveillance system an incredibly light footprint.

If 24/7 streaming is an elephant, high-tech video analytics is a gazelle.

If 24/7 streaming is Niagara Falls, video analytics that uses “trickle” monitoring is the little creek out the back forty.

“Trickle” Monitoring Vs. Streaming

At iWatchLife, we’ve been developing video analytics for DIY IP home surveillance cams for over six years, and we’ve taken bandwidth-sparing technology to the next level.

In fact, iWatchLife is such a bandwidth miser that five cams powered by iWatchLife will consume the same bandwidth as one Dropcam.

iWatchLife uses five times less bandwidth than Dropcam

When you consider that most people will have at least two cameras monitoring their home, the effect is multiplied.

Here’s how it works: Most video monitoring systems send a constant stream of data to the cloud, but iWatchLife sends only a trickle.

When nothing is happening in a scene, the camera powered by iWatchLife is dormant. Nothing is streaming to the cloud.

At the first sign of motion, though, the camera sends a short burst of information to our powerful cloud-based algorithms to be analyzed. The algorithms decide if the activity is important, or whether it’s the kind of meaningless “noise” that needs to be filtered out. (See our article on video analytics and accuracy.)

If the activity is important, the algorithms tell the camera to record, and the customer gets a clip that starts 5 seconds before the activity and ends 10 seconds afterward, along with a real-time notification. If the activity is not important, the camera remains dormant, and no more data goes to the cloud.

iWatchLife will not slow a network down, even with cameras that have HD, wide-angle video.

Saves Time, Hassle, and Cloud Storage Costs

Apart from sparing bandwidth, this targeted approach to activity-based recording with leading-edge filters saves customers time because they don’t have to sift through hours of recorded video in which nothing happens. They only see what they’re interested in seeing.

Highly accurate analytics also saves them the hassle of constant false alerts. Don’t underestimate the frustration factor—customers can’t use DIY video surveillance for security if they’re receiving false alerts every few minutes.

The smart, miserly approach to IP cam surveillance also makes cloud storage very affordable, because only significant, meaningful clips are being saved to the cloud, and not a continual stream of high-def video in which nothing is happening.

All of this makes for a better user experience and happier customers, which is of course the ultimate goal.


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Interested in a video analytics and cloud storage solution for your hardware? Give us a call at 1-877-217-7666 or drop us a line at partners@iwatchlife.com.