IP Cameras as Door Intercoms

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jul 11, 2012

Are door intercom units really necessary? An often overlooked benefit of IP cameras are their flexibility to be used for more than surveillance. With the wide selection and flexibility of IP cameras available, understanding their limitations when used as intercom can be confusing. In this note, we address the options available when using IP cameras as intercoms.

Overview

Using IP cameras in intercom applications can be intriguing when only a few stations are needed because it can eliminates a seperate system. Even though seperate intercom systems exist, like those covered in our Stentofon Pulse and Designing IP Intercom System notes, modern IP video systems can be easily adapted for basic intercom function. Constructing a intercom station using an IP camera takes three major forms:

  • Units with Microphones/Speakers onboard
  • Specialty Door Station Units
  • Units manually built using I/O Ports

Camera as Intercom Types

Units with Microphones/Speakers onboard: While cameras containing built in microphones and speakers seem to be the easiest answer, those compnents lack the fidelity quality and range required to clearly understand human voices. Frequently, the onboard mic provides the ability to detect noise, but lacks the ability to discern what is being said. Likewise, the speakers included onboard cameras often lack the amplification and projection to be heard at listener level when hung at typical mounting heights. These units also require rigging up an external 'call button' in order to be used as traditional intercom stations. The image below is an example of one of these units:

Specialty Door Station Units: Devices specifically designed for use as intercom stations are available. Notable examples of the Mobotix T24 'Door Station' and the Speco Technologies 02S1. While these units are examples of units described above, they often include specific intercom features like call buttons, wide angle/hemispheric lenses/ and amplified speakers and microphones. Unlike the 'video intercom' units produced by mainline intercom manufacturers, these units feature better quality cameras more easily incorporated into surveillance systems. The image below is an example of a specialty unit:

 

 

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Units with I/O Ports: Even 'standard' surveillance cameras often include the provision to be integrated as intercom stations. Provided cameras have audio input/ouput ports, they are able to be connected to 3rd party intercom stations. It is common to find cameras that only contain only audio input or output ports, and in that case the camera is only able to be used "audio in" only operation. Even cameras feature both ports may only support 'half duplex' operation. Lacking the ability for operators to simultaenous be heard or to hear, at the camera may/may not be an issue, but most intercom systems support 'full duplex' operation. In the picture of the camera below, the audio ports are labeled, along with the general 'Component I/O' port used to tie in components like intercom call buttons or door contact switches:

Software Consideration

Regardless of how well the hardware performs, it must be accessible by an operator. This sometimes is where intercom/IP video surveillance systems diverge. Not all VMS systems support two-way audio function, as we noted in our "Single IP Camera / Intercom Station" note. Understanding how this particular interface will work can significantly affect which approach is best. 

If the VMS cannot be used to operate an IP Camera Intercom function, then a camera's 'Live View' webpage can be configured to provide the function. 

Pricing Comparison

In general, IP Camera Intercom stations can be put together for under $500 per camera. Considering that most specialty IP intercom systems cost around $1000 per station, piecing together a 'custom' system for one or two stations can be a significant cost savings.

However, for large, multi-station intercom systems or those systems requiring complex routing, the IP Camera based solution will not provide advanced functionality. 

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

VMS Mobile App Shootout - Avigilon, Dahua, Exacq, Genetec, Hikvision, Milestone on Oct 01, 2018
Mobile VMS apps are a critical interface for the modern surveillance user. But who does it best and worst? We tested 6 manufacturers - Avigilon,...
AHJ / Authority Having Jurisdiction Tutorial on Sep 27, 2018
One of the most powerful yet often underappreciated characters in all of physical security is the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Often,...
Alexa Guard Expands Amazon's Security Offerings, Boosts ADT's Stock on Sep 21, 2018
Amazon is expanding their security offerings yet again, this time with Alexa Guard that delivers security audio analytics and a virtual "Fake...
IP Camera Cable Labeling Guide on Sep 14, 2018
Labeling cables can save a lot of money and headaches. While it is easy to overlook, taking time to label runs during installation significantly...
Favorite Intercom Manufacturers 2018 on Sep 14, 2018
Intercoms are certainly increasing in popularity, driven by the integration of video and IP networking. But who is the favorite? On the one side,...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 04, 2018
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet it is commonly ignored. The drain wire offers protection for readers...
Exit Devices For Access Control Tutorial on Aug 28, 2018
Exit Devices, also called 'Panic Bars' or 'Crash Bars' are required by safety codes the world over, and become integral parts of electronic access...
Inputs/Outputs For Video Surveillance Guide on Aug 24, 2018
While many cameras have Input/Output (I/O) ports, few are actually used and most designers do not even consider them. However, a good understanding...
Backup Power for Large Security Systems Tutorial on Aug 24, 2018
Choosing the right backup power system depends on system size. While small and medium systems greatly benefit from using UPS battery backup...
Backboxes for Video Surveillance Tutorial on Aug 15, 2018
Backboxes are a necessity in surveillance, whether for managing cable whips, recessing cameras, adding wireless radios. But it can be confusing to...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Startup SafePass Profile on Oct 19, 2018
A major problem with visitor management is that the systems mostly require adhesive printed paper labels and paper logs, creating waste and an...
China Is Not A Security Megatrend, Says SIA on Oct 19, 2018
The US Security Industry Association has released its 10 "Security Megatrends" for 2019. SIA declares that these megatrends, such as "Advanced...
Hanwha Dual Imager Dome Camera Tested (PNM-7000VD) on Oct 18, 2018
Hanwha has introduced their first dual-imager model, the PNM-7000VD, a twin 1080p model featuring independently positionable sensors and a snap-in...
Camera Height / Blind Spot Added to IPVM Camera Calculator on Oct 18, 2018
IPVM has added camera height and blind spot estimation to the Camera Calculator. This is especially helpful for those who need to mount cameras up...
Axis Strong US Growth, Flat EMEA - Q3 2018 Financials on Oct 18, 2018
This spring, Axis had its best financials in many years (see Axis Strong Q2 2018 Results). However, over the summer, Axis had many products sold...
Best Alternatives to Banned Dahua and Hikvision on Oct 17, 2018
With the US government ban and a growing number of users banning Dahua and Hikvision, one key question is what to use for low cost? While Dahua and...
Video Quality / Compression Tutorial on Oct 17, 2018
While CODECs, like H.264, H.265, and MJPEG, get a lot of attention, a camera's 'quality' or compression setting has a big impact on overall...
Knightscope Winning Investors, Struggling With Growth on Oct 16, 2018
While Knightscope's new financials show the company only winning 11 new customers in the past 12 months, the company continues to win new...
Integrator Laptop Guide on Oct 16, 2018
This 18-page guide provides guidance and statistics about integrator laptop use. 150 integrators explained to IPVM in detail about their laptops,...
Huawei Admits AI "Bubble" on Oct 16, 2018
A fascinating article from the Chinese government's Global Times: Huawei’s AI ambition to reshape industries. While the Global Times talks about...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact