The Journal Gazette
Sunday, June 16, 2019 1:00 am

Video security devices grow in popularity

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Home security got easier with the arrival of a range of do-it-yourself cameras and other easily installed security devices. 

Technology now allows homeowners to monitor the interior and exterior of their homes with a smartphone. 

It's a market that grew from about $1.01 billion in 2017 to $1.25 billion last year in the U.S., according to Blake Kozak, senior principal analyst for smart home, appliances and security technology at IHS Markit, in Englewood, Colorado.  

In North America, fewer than 2 million video doorbells sold in 2017, but that number is expected to grow to more than 14 million by 2022, Kozak said. The first device was introduced in 2013, he added.

Several security devices are available at local stores here, and salespeople say demand is steady, if not growing. 

“Ring is the most popular,” a salesman at Best Buy said. The video doorbell camera has a base model that costs $100 and another, more complex model at $249. 

Ring is owned by Amazon and was first seen on “Shark Tank,” so it has name recognition.

“One of the first video doorbells was called 'Doorbot' (and) was later renamed Ring. This was first announced in 2013,” Kozak wrote in an email. “One of the first standalone network cameras that was linked to mobile phones was called Dropcam, which was founded in 2009. In 2014, Nest Labs bought Dropcam so these cameras are now known as Google Nest cameras.”  

But Arlo, owned by Netgear, is also popular with its free seven-day rolling video. 

For other devices, subscribers have to pay a fee for iCloud storage. 

Although Arlo comes with seven days of free cloud storage for video clips, the market trend is toward pay services, Kozak said. Advanced features such as facial recognition or people detection will require a monthly fee.

“For Ring, the cost varies on the plan choice,” Kozak wrote in an email. “Consumers can pay no monthly fee and have access to alerts and live streaming, but there is no cloud or local storage of video. For $3 a month, consumers have access to all motion and recordings for 60 days for one camera or video doorbell. And for $10 a month, users can view recordings for all cameras and video doorbells at one address. 

“For others like Nest (now called Google Nest), there are options for five-, 10- or 30-day subscriptions, which range in price from $5 per month for the first camera to $30 a month for the first camera. Subsequent cameras using Nest Aware cost between $3 and $15 per camera,” Kozak added. 

Most homeowners start with the doorbell video camera, according to local salespeople at Best Buy, Lowe's, Home Depot and Walmart. Alerts are sent to a homeowner's smartphone when the device senses movement. 

A view of the area covered by the doorbell video camera can be seen on the phone. In some more expensive models, a homeowner can communicate with a delivery person, a friend or an intruder. 

Doorbell and other home security cameras can help identify porch thieves. 

Mark and Jana Lese installed a security camera at their front door and another overlooking the driveway at their northeast Fort Wayne home. 

“I had some guys break into my car,” Mark Lese said. Now their phones get a ding if someone drives up the driveway. 

The Leses bought an Arlo surveillance camera for $180 and an auxiliary camera for $80. Mark Lese says he likes the free seven-day rolling video Netgear offers. 

While doorbell videos can be hardwired to the house by replacing an existing doorbell, the Leses opted for a battery-operated system. 

“You have to recharge the battery every couple of months or so, so you have to take them down,” Mark Lese said.

Owners can recharge the device with a solar panel that costs $80, he added. 

Mark Lese screwed the cameras onto mounts he bought to make it more difficult to steal the cameras, he said. 

The Leses said the phone dings all the time, mostly people walking their dogs and the occasional raccoon going across the driveway. 

“I have a lot of packages I order at Christmas time and I kind of watch that, too,” Jana Lese said. 

A Nest Hello by Google is another popular product that retails for $199 at Home Depot. It combines a doorbell with the security a camera provides.

“People want to be secure when someone comes to the door,” said a Home Depot salesman, who explained company policy does not allow employees to give their names. “They want to see who it is. To these systems, users can add cameras, spotlights and floodlights.” 

At Lowe's, a Nest Hello retails for about the same price as it does at Home Depot, and if two are purchased, the price drops, a Lowe's electronics salesman said, noting interest has grown. 

“People that were thinking 'whatever,' now are thinking, 'it's doable,' ” the salesman said, adding that the presence of devices may be a deterrent for criminals.

The Best Buy electronics expert said his store has seen repeat customers adding more cameras. 

Homeowners have “seen things happening outside their home, people coming up to the door, looking into the windows for seemingly no reason,” he said. 

Mark Lese said that if someone tried to break into his car again, he wouldn't be able to stop them, but at least he'd have the perpetrators on camera. 

Funny things can happen with home security video, too.

Jean Linduell of Fort Wayne dropped off a basket of Halloween-themed gifts at a neighbor's home as part of a neighborhood ghosting game. 

She knew her friend and neighbor got home around 6 p.m. and dropped off the basket around 5:30 p.m. 

Later that night, the neighbor called to thank her for the basket. Linduell was as surprised as the gift recipient, but her neighbor never let on how she knew. 

Linduell is convinced it was her neighbor's camera that told the tale. 

“She had one of those cameras,” Linduell said.

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