IP Camera & IP Speed Dome FAQ

Q1 : What is an IP Camera and Speed Dome?

IP is an abbreviation for Internet Protocol, the most common protocol for communication over computer networks and the internet. IP Camera and Speed Dome is a camera and speed Dome that creates digitized video streams and transfers via a wired or wireless IP network, enabling monitoring and video recording as far away as the network reaches. In other words, using an IP camera and speed Dome can save a lot of money on installation since most facilities are already wired with LAN cables. Wiring coaxial cables is the major expense when implementing analog cameras and speed Dome. Also, it allows users to have a camera and speed Dome at one location while view live video at another location over the network / internet.     

Q2 : What is the difference between a web camera and an IP camera?

A web camera is connected to a PC, normally through USB, and uses the PC to make video available to other viewers. It will not work without a PC locally connected to the camera. An IP camera usually stands alone, and combines the functionality of a high-end web camera, the PC and network interface into one network-ready product.       

Q3 : How much bandwidth does an IP Camera need?

It depends on both the resolution and frame rate. It also depends on the compression technology the IP camera is using. Below are three of the most popular compression technology and the required bandwidth and other important information.

Compression Protocol M-JPEG MPEG-2 MPEG-4
Compression Rate 6 30-40 200-500
Resolution 352 x 288 720 x 576 720 x 576
FPS 25-30 fps 50-60 fps 25-30 fps
Bandwidth Required 1.5Mbps 4-15Mbps 10K-1Mbps

Also, please note that 30 frames/s (NTSC) is the required frame rate to provide continuous motion and good quality (DVD like) video.      

Q4 : Can I save video from the camera?

Yes. You can record the video at remote / local by using the software provided by the IP camera manufacturer. The ability to record the video at remote site is a major advantage of IP camera over traditional analog camera. NAS (Network Attached Storage) is very useful in video storage, and is easy to install.     

Q5 : Do I need to have internet access to use the cameras?

No. The camera works fine also in local network without the internet connection. If the remote users are in the same local network, it's not necessary to connect the IP cameras to the internet.     

Q6 : Do you have cameras support Power-over-Ethernet?

We don't have products that support Power-over-Ethernet now. However, it's in our product plan. If customers need IP camera with Power-over-Ethernet function, we can provide Power-over-Ethernet modules to connect to both switch/router and IP cameras to provide Power-over-Ethernet function.      

Q7 : Do you have cameras support wireless LAN?

Our products support wireless LAN will be available in Q3 2004. Current wireless LAN (802.11) doesn't support wireless LAN QoS (defined in 802.16), and therefore is not suitable in security surveillance application. The IP camera that support wireless LAN right now are mostly for home security and entertainment applications.      

Q8 : What's the advantage using MPEG-4?

MPEG-4 provides DVD quality video, but uses lower bit rate so that it's feasible to transmit digitized video streams in LAN, and also in WAN, where bandwidth is more critical, and hard to guarantee. MJPEG's bandwidth requirement is a little bit more than MPEG-4, while its resolution and frame rate are much worse. MPEG-2 can provide DVD-like video, just like MPEG-4. However, MPEG-2's bandwidth requirement is so high that itís not possible to use in a LAN or WAN environment.      

Q9 : Why is MPEG-4 ASP Compliant important? Is ASP same as Short header as some other manufacturer claims?

There are MPEG-4 ASP (Advanced Simple Profile), MPEG-4 SP (Simple Profile), and MPEG-4 Short Header in the market now. MPEG-4 ASP provides all I, B, P frames and therefore provide better compression rate, while both MPEG-4 SP and MPEG-4 Short Header provide I and P frames only. In current practice, MPEG-4 ASP and SP are deployed by ASIC, while Short Header is most commonly deployed by DSP. For the same video quality, the bandwidth required for MPEG-4 ASP is smaller than that of MPEG-4 SP or Short Header. Here is a video quality comparison between ACTiís video server and a competitorís MPEG-4 video server. Itís obvious that although both video servers use MPEG-4 compression technology, ACTiís video server has better video quality since ACTi is MPEG-4 ASP compliant, while the competitor is MPEG-4 Short Header compliant. The right-hand picture is ACTiís video, while the left-hand one is from the competitor. Other Product  - MPEG-4 Short header  - Resolution : CIF  - BitRate : 384kb/s ACTi SED-2100R  - MPEG-4 ASP  - Resolution : CIF  - BitRate : 384kb/s.       

Q10 : What's the advantage to use MPEG-4 ASIC over DSP?
Current most popular DSP cannot provide enough processing power to process MPEG-4 full D1/30 fps encoding algorithm. The video quality processed via DSP cannot compete with that processed by ASIC. Current DSP usually supports up to CIF (360x240) right now, while ASIC can support not only CIF, but also full D1 (720x480).     

Q11 : Why is it so important to have DDNS support in IP camera?

If an IP camera can support DDNS (Dynamic Domain Name Server), users can set the IP camera at a virtual domain name (such as cam1.kitchen.Taipei.xxx.xxx) at dynamic IP, and be able to view this IP camera anywhere that has access to the internet. It saves money when setting up the broadband with service provider, whether itís ADSL or cable modem, since fixed IP is not a must.

Some IP camera manufacturers claim to provide DDNS. However, they are software solution that needs to be installed at client site's PC. Therefore, it requires users to see those IP cameras at the PCs that have installed the specific AP from manufacturers. This is not as user-friendly. ACTi have DDNS function built-in the IP camera so that users can view the IP camera from anywhere.      

Q12 : Why is it important to have WAN and LAN on the IP camera?

ACTi's IP cameras provide two RJ-45 connectors. One is WAN and one is LAN. Both of them are 10/100. The difference between a WAN and a LAN is that WAN is to be connected to the internet, while LAN is to be connected to a local network. Since the internet's bandwidth is very critical, ACTi provides hardware QoS (Quality of Service) on the WAN port to ensure the bandwidth when uploading video streams through the internet. Also, the WAN port is equipped with PPPoE (Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet) which enables the IP camera to be connected to an ADSL or cable modem without the need to go through a router first. If the IP cameras are to be deployed at a large area, it will be very costly to provide routers to each IP camera. Using IP cameras with PPPoE built-in, installers will be able to save a lot of cost over routers.    

Q13 : What does "Digital Time Code Embedded"Ē mean? Why is it important?

The "Digital Time Code Embedded" function is embedded in MPEG data stream. Therefore, the exact time each frame is recorded will be stored. It is very useful when users want to find the video at an exact time or a certain time interval. If an IP camera doesnít support this function, users have to search for the whole video stream by looking through the video, which takes a lot of time. Some cameras provide software solution to simulate this function. However, this is not as accurate. Video streams with Digital Time Code Embedded are so-called "Smart Video", and can enable a lot of useful applications at client site.

The other advantage of Digital Time Code Embedded is that it provides watermark on the video streams. Since the time code is written in the video stream, if the video is modified by others, the time code will disappear from the video stream, and therefore, the time code can act like a watermark for the video stream and users will find if the video is modified by unauthorized people.    

Q14 : Does ACTi's IP camera provide motion detection function?

Yes. ACTi's IP camera provides built-in motion detection function in the IP camera, not in the AP installed at client site. If the motion detection is in the AP, there will be latency between the time the event occurred, and the time the camera reacts.     

Q15 : What kind of software is provided by ACTi together with IP camera?

ACTi will provide SDK (Software Developer Kit) along with a simple AP for reference.    

Q16 : What's the applications for IP camera?

IP cameras can be used in professional security systems and enable live video to be viewed remotely by authorized personnel. The IP cameras are easily integrated into larger, complex systems, but can also function as stand-alone solutions in entry-level surveillance applications. IP cameras can be used for surveillance of sensitive areas, such as buildings, casinos, banks and shops. Video of those areas can be monitored from relevant control rooms, at police stations and by security managers from a variety of locations. IP cameras are also effective substitutes for analog cameras in traditional law enforcement applications, such as keeping public places safe. IP cameras can be used for access control. People as well as vehicles can be recorded with time stamps that are easy to locate and review. The images can be stored in a remote location, making it impossible to steal the information.

IP cameras are easily connected to the existing IP network and enable real-time updates of high-quality video to be accessible from any computer on the network. Sensitive areas such as the server room, the reception area or any remote site can be closely monitored in a cost-effective and simple way, over the local network or via the internet. IP cameras enhance the monitoring of a retail location by ensuring that everything is in good order. An IP camera is a useful tool at the office. Areas like the reception area, and conference rooms can be monitored for activity. In addition, users can keep track of who has been in the server room and take appropriate action when problems occur. IP cameras are useful tools for the manufacturing industry. Monitor robots, other machines and production lines from the office or home and allow service engineers to access the cameras remotely. With Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras it is possible to look at comprehensive as well as detailed views.


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