Testing Surveillance as a 'Game' (Internet Eyes)

By: John Honovich, Published on Nov 02, 2010

What if you could have live monitors watch your business around the clock for about $100 per month? If they see a threat, they trigger an alarm that goes to your phone? Would you do it?

If those monitors were regular people at home watching on their computers, would you care?

This is the basic proposition of a UK startup called Internet Eyes. It's a web 2.0 service that connects businesses needing surveillance to people on the Internet. The top Internet 'security guard' gets a prize at the end of each month.

For a startup, the amount of attention that Internet Eyes has received is staggering. They've been compared to Stasi, had others provides lengthy defenses against privacy concerns and receive ongoing coverage in Britain's leading publications.

Rather than pontificate, we decided to sign up as a user and test it first hand. While the media coverage focuses on privacy, our focus is to understand: Is this a viable business? Can this approach supplant traditional monitoring services?

Here are the key points that we believe industry professionals should keep in mind:

  • The price is remarkably cheap for businesses. It's 75 GBP per month (about $115 USD) including the 4 channel encoder they provide. Any commercial remote monitoring system is going to cost far more for any live monitoring.
  • On the other hand, the quality of the monitoring is likely to be questionable. Internet Eyes monitors have no knowledge of the facility, its traffic patterns, its employees, etc. 
  • Internet Eyes monitors have only the most rudimentary of functions available: no audio (neither direction), no video analytics to alert them of potential activity, no ability to view other cameras in the site, no ability to control PTZs and low resolution video (visually it looks no better than CIF).
  • Similar to nearly all surveillance video, watching Internet Eyes feeds is as exciting as watching paint dry. It's long periods of little to no activity than is likely to produce boredom. Unlike other Internet games, watching surveillance video provides little interactivity and ongoing rewards.
  • Finding actual suspicious activity will likely require dozens of hours of viewing, making the value and motivation for the top price questionable.

We think the most fundamental issue is the tension between privacy and performance. The more Internet Eyes optimizes the service to reduce privacy concerns, the lower the performance they can deliver (relative to traditional monitoring services). On the other hand, privacy concerns are critical for Internet Eyes, being based in the UK that has some of the most stringent privacy regulations in the world.

Internet Eyes Architecture

The video below provides a short overview of how all the components of Internet Eyes works. We examine how businesses, owners, monitors and the web services connect together:

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Internet Eyes in Action

The video below provides a 'live' tour of the service in action. We look at a number of the key elements of the service including the monitoring area and league tables:

Future Opportunity and Video Analytics

While we cannot predict the future of Internet Eyes, we do see future market opportunity. Internet Eyes is an early stage company with relatively rudimentary technology and sharp attacks by UK privacy proponents. At this stage, we think their viability is questionable.

On the other hand, we do think we will see more of this approach. One, it may do better in the US where privacy concerns are nowhere near as important. Secondly, we think video analytics will be a key feature in the future of on-line monitoring.

Even 'mediocre' video analytics would provide a significant boost to this type of service.

  1. If people are going to watch continuous surveillance video, it would be far better to show a series of short clips. This would be much more interesting and improve the game dynamics. The monitors could at least interact after each clip to confirm or deny activity.
  2. Monitors would catch far more valid alerts watching series of analytic generated clips than watching live video (in any given time period). Since the service is aggregating video feeds from numerous businesses, they could keep pushing out new alerts on a continuous basis.

Any approach that is based on essentially public monitoring will inherently have limitations compared to professional monitoring services with bonded, regulated employees. Because of that, it's hard to see Internet Eyes approach work in the mid to high end of the market. However, for smaller businesses than will not justify paying the premium for traditional monitoring services, we see potential for this approach.

Related Reports

Budget Covert Cameras Tested on Nov 26, 2019
Covert cameras under $100 are widely available online but are they any...
Video Surveillance Business 101 on Mar 30, 2020
This report explains the fundamental elements of the video surveillance...
Security Sales Course January 2020 - Last Chance on Jan 02, 2020
Notice: This is the last chance to register for the course. This sales...
YCombinator AI Startup Visual One Tested on Apr 02, 2020
Startup Visual One, backed by Silicon Valley's powerful Y Combinator, aims to...
NetApp Video Surveillance Profile on Mar 09, 2020
NetApp is increasing its efforts in video surveillance and told IPVM...
Lasers Impact on Surveillance Cameras Tested on Sep 25, 2019
Hong Kong protests have brought global attention to video surveillance and...
AI Video Surveillance (Finally) Goes Mainstream In 2020 on Sep 03, 2019
While video surveillance analytics has been promoted, hyped and lamented for...
Verkada Access Control Tested on Sep 09, 2020
Verkada raised $80 million earlier in 2020, expanding from video into access...
Uniview Deep Learning Camera Tested on Jul 14, 2020
Uniview's intrusion analytics have performed poorly in our shootouts. Now,...
ZKTeco Body Temperature and Mask Detection Reader Tested on May 26, 2020
While dedicated fever cameras emerged first, now tablet/kiosk fever detectors...
Axis Door Station A8207-VE Tested on Aug 07, 2019
Axis newest door station, the A8207-VE, claims to deliver "video...
IPVM Editorial Staff on Aug 01, 2020
IPVM has the largest and most experienced editorial team covering video...
Directory of 96 Video Surveillance Startups on May 20, 2020
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see...
IP Networking Course Fall 2020 - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 23, 2020
Today is the last chance to register for the only IP networking course...
Startup Solink $17 Million USD Fund Raise Expands To Mass Market on Jun 24, 2020
Solink has raised ~$17 million USD, a sizeable round for the company that...

Recent Reports

Hanwha AI Object Detection Tested on Sep 28, 2020
Hanwha has added detection and classification of people, cars, clothing...
Favorite Access Control Manufacturers 2020 on Sep 28, 2020
200+ Integrators told IPVM "What is your favorite access control management...
New Products Show Fall 2020 Starts Tomorrow! on Sep 27, 2020
Tomorrow, IPVM's sixth online show will feature New Products from over 25...
OnTech Smart Services Partners With Google and Amazon To Compete With Integrators on Sep 25, 2020
A pain point for many homeowners to use consumer security and surveillance is...
The Future of Metalens For Video Surveillance Cameras - MIT / UMass / Immervision on Sep 25, 2020
Panoramic cameras using 'fisheye' lens have become commonplace in video...
Hikvision Sues Over Brazilian Airport Loss on Sep 24, 2020
Hikvision was excluded from a Brazilian airport project because it is owned...
China General Chamber of Commerce Calls Out US Politics on Sep 24, 2020
While US-China relations are at an all-time low, optimism about relations...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
IP Networking Course Fall 2020 - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 23, 2020
Today is the last chance to register for the only IP networking course...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
Norway Council of Ethics Finds Hikvision Human Rights Abuses "Ongoing" on Sep 23, 2020
Hikvision's involvement in "serious human rights abuse" in Xinjiang is...
IPVM Camera Calculator User Manual / Guide on Sep 23, 2020
Learn how to use the IPVM Camera Calculator (updated for Version 3.1). The...
Installation Course Fall 2020 - Save $50 - Last Chance on Sep 22, 2020
This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...
SimpliSafe Business Security Launched Examined on Sep 22, 2020
SimpliSafe has launched "SimpliSafe Business Security" that the company...
FLIR CEO: Many New Fever Entrants "Making Claims That The Science Just Won't Support" on Sep 22, 2020
FLIR's CEO joins a growing number calling out risks with fever / screening...