FLIR Goes Consumer - Dropcam Killer?

By John Honovich, Published Jan 07, 2014, 12:00am EST

Following one of the most surprising video deals in years (Flir acquiring Lorex), FLIR has announced its first consumer IP camera [link no longer available], a release that clearly takes aim at hot startup Dropcam. In this note, we break down the features, positioning and pricing of FLIR FX [link no longer available], contrasting it to Dropcam.

[UPDATE: See IPVM Test results of the FLIR FX.]

FLIR FX Overview

FLIR emphasizes the FX's ability to 'transform' itself from:

  • Indoor baby / child monitor to
  • Outdoor surveillance camera to
  • Driver / dashcam to
  • Sports camera

The camera unit simply pops into different mounts / enclosures for each application. Here's an overview of the core and optional components:

Here's their marketing video that show a little more in action:

There are a few important, differentiating features [link no longer available]:

  • 1080p video, which is quite high for the consumer IP camera market (Dropcam and others typically are 720p)
  • 160 degree FoV, which is super wide but obviously reduces how far the camera can capture details
  • Supports SD card storage and FLIR says that the device will ship with an SD card though they have not confirmed what size in contrast to Dropcam which requires offsite/ cloud storage only
  • Free cloud access for both live and video recorded on SD card, eliminates the need for purchasing subscription for recording video (a la Dropcam)
  • Internal battery, rated for up to 4 hours which enables it to be moved and used for short term monitoring (car, sporting events, etc.). This is quite uncommon with IP cameras.
  • External housing has 4 built in IR LEDs adding to the 2 embedded in the camera which FLIR rates for 80 feet range. Having an external housing is not common for consumer IP cameras and the additional IR LEDs will certainly help for larger areas.

Pricing and Availability

The MSRP of the core unit will be $249 USD. The product is scheduled for release in "late Spring to early Summer 2014."

Positioning

Given the premium features and pricing, this is clearly targeted at the higher end consumer. There are 2 core competitive differentiators we see:

  • The ability to use the camera for multiple purposes may make it more valuable and useful than traditional indoor only fixed IP cameras.
  • Free cloud access for video recorded on the SD card can eliminate one of the barrier and most expensive parts of hosted video.

This is the most compelling threat we have seen yet to Dropcam, given the premium features, undercutting of subscriptions, and marketing muscle FLIR is putting behind this.

On the other hand, the FLIR FX camera is still 4 to 6 months away so the implementation could turn out to be poor and / or Dropcam may release something better in the interim. While it is good to see competition heating up, the impact remains to be seen.

 

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