Ex-Googler Startup Camio Cloud Video Tested

By Ethan Ace, Published Dec 16, 2015, 12:00am EST (Research)

Two ex-Googlers, one who was a Director of Product Management and another who is a Stanford PhD, have built a cloud video solution that aims to deliver Google style searching to cloud video / surveillance.

Camio has introduced advanced analytics (people, vehicles, color) and plain language search, essentially allowing users to "google" their Camio cameras for the video they want.

This search is shown in this animation:

We tested Camio with IP cameras, including Axis and Nest, to see how well these features performed.

Exec Summary

Camio's analytics, plain language search, and daily update features are novel, found in few, if any, competitive cloud systems. Plain language search was fairly accurate and made finding video easier compared to timeline or event searches required by other platforms, even professional / enterprise VMSes.

However, the lack of live video for most cameras makes Camio unusable for many. Additionally, the setup process required for most IP cameras (aside from Nest/Dropcam and Sharx) may be difficult for inexperienced users.

Camio has a very powerful competitive advantage in video search but an incomplete solution for most 'regular' users who want easy setup and traditional live video monitoring.

Other Relevant Companies

On the cloud search / analytic side, readers may also want to consider:

Key Technical Findings

  • Camio integrates to most IP cameras via event clips/snapshots, requiring users to manually create actions in the camera to upload on motion.
  • Nest/Dropcam setup is simpler, only requiring users to log into their Nest account and select cameras.
  • Live video is unsupported on most IP cameras. iOS/Android recording devices provide live viewing.
  • Plain language search is simple to use, with users simply entering what they are looking for, e.g., "people wearing blue in office on tuesday." Alternatively, searches may be built via a point and click menu.
  • Analytics were fairly accurate, with few misclassifications of objects, and few missed classifications.
  • Daily update email provided a simple way to scan through clips which may otherwise be missed.

Pricing

For IP cameras, Camio starts at $9.90 per camera per month (called "Plus"), which includes 30 day history, search, alerts, and the daily update. This pricing is similar to most 7-10 day cloud storage plans from competitors such as Nest. The Pro plan, $19.90 per camera per month includes 90 days of history as well as Camio's advanced analytics.

Camio does not offer any free plans but live streaming of iOS and Android device cameras, with no history nor search, is provided.

Setup

Camio setup is difficult compared to most cloud services. Users integrate most IP cameras by creating rules to send video clips or snapshots on motion. Camio supports HTTP(S), FTP, and email transmission of these events. Some setup help is provided for various models, but details are not provided for many manufacturers.

Clips are limited to "10MB via HTTP[S] and 2MB via FTP", which Camio estimates as "typically, 10 seconds of video+audio at 15 frames/second in 640x480 resolution." In our tests, we were able to send higher resolutions without issue, though obviously, this is dependent on camera compression, framerate, and other CODEC settings.

Setup for Nest/Dropcam was much simpler. Users enter their Nest credentials and select which camera(s) they want to use with Camio. No further setup is required.

We review setup in this video:

Plain Language Search

Camio allows users to search using plain language, such as "people wearing blue near desk" or "cars approaching gate on tuesday." This makes it simple for inexperienced users to find video, instead of using more complex timeline or event list searches.

Note that some words in this search aren't required; Camio simply ignores them. For example, in "people wearing blue near desk", only people (the analytic type), blue (color), and desk (predefined zone) are used. 

We review search in this video:

Daily Updates

For all paid members, Camio sends a daily update email displaying clips of interest, determined by what the user has marked thumbs up/down in the past, zones of interest, etc. The email contains an animated .gif of the event, which users may click to launch the Camio search interface.

This email provided a simple way to scan through events which may have otherwise been missed. However, in busy scenes, it may be less useful, simply because much activity will look the same to the camera, making it harder to determine what is/is not important.

For example, one email contained these clips. First, because a subject approached the desk in the lower left:

 

And in this clip, because a person walked through a scene which was otherwise generally still or included only birds/branches.

No Live Viewing IP Cameras

Live video is unsupported for IP cameras in Camio. The "cameras" page shows only a periodically updated thumbnail, or capture of the last event from each camera. Live video from Android and iOS devices is displayed.

Camio says live video is intended for a future release.

IFTTT Integration

Camio also includes an IFTTT channel, not found in many cloud services. This allows users perform basic integration of Camio to other systems. For example, users may turn on an outside light (via Wemo or Smartthings) when a person is detected in a specific Camio camera zone, or a user may turn on/off recording and motion notifications based on their location.

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