IP Cameras as Door Intercoms

By: 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 [link no longer available]. 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 Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Breaking Into A Facility Using Canned Air Tested on Jan 28, 2020
Access control is supposed to make doors more secure, but a $5 can of compressed air may defeat it. With no special training, intruders can...
Hikvision DS 2nd Gen Intercom Tested on Dec 12, 2019
With its newest IP intercom, Hikvision proclaims users can 'get full control over an entrance' regardless of where it is installed, home or office...
Disruptor Wyze Releases Undisruptive Smartlock on Dec 06, 2019
While Wyze has disrupted the consumer IP camera market with ~$20 cameras, its entrance into smart locks is entirely undisruptive. We have...
Avigilon H4 Intercom Tested on Nov 20, 2019
Avigilon is well-known for video surveillance and access, but how well does the company's intercom work? We purchased and tested Avigilon's H4...
Wireless / WiFi Access Lock Guide on Nov 12, 2019
For some access openings, running wires can add thousands in cost, and wireless alternatives that avoid it becomes appealing. But using wireless...
Aiphone Video Intercom Tested (IX Series 2) on Nov 05, 2019
Aiphone was one of integrator's favorite intercom manufacturers but how well do their products work? The company's newest offering, the IX Series 2...
Lock Status Monitoring Tutorial on Oct 28, 2019
Just because access doors are closed does not mean they are locked. Unless access systems are using lock status monitoring, the doors and areas...
Securing Access Control Installations Tutorial on Oct 17, 2019
The physical security of access control components is critical to ensuring that a facility is truly secure. Otherwise, the entire system can be...
Commend ID5 Intercom Tested on Sep 12, 2019
Commend touts the new ID5 intercom as 'timelessly elegant' and the slim body, glass front touchscreen indeed looks better than common, but ugly,...
Axis Door Station A8207-VE Tested on Aug 07, 2019
Axis newest door station, the A8207-VE, claims to deliver "video surveillance, two-way communication, and access control" in a single device. But...

Most Recent Industry Reports

GeoVision Presents AI and Facial Recognition on May 22, 2020
GeoVision presented its AI analytics and facial recognition at the April 2020 IPVM New Products show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video...
Density Presents Occupancy Monitoring For Coronavirus Protection on May 22, 2020
Density presented its cloud-based occupancy sensor to deal with Coronavirus at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A...
Openpath Presents Two Door PoE Controller on May 21, 2020
Openpath presented its new PoE controller at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video from Openpath including...
Bosch Presents MIC 7100 Extreme PTZs on May 21, 2020
Bosch presented its MIC 7100 Extreme PTZs at the April 2020 IPVM New Products show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video from Bosch...
Hikvision Chairman Targeted For Sanctions As Federal Watchdog Calls Out Hikvision "Serious Religious Freedom Violations" on May 21, 2020
The US government's religious freedom watchdog has criticized Hikvision for being "credibly implicated in serious religious freedom violations"....
Hikvision Temperature Screening Tested on May 20, 2020
Hikvision has ramped up the promotion of its 'temperature screening' system, including their salespeople arguing for no blackbody needed. But how...
Axxon Presents VMS 4.4 and AI Behavior Analytics on May 20, 2020
AxxonSoft presented its VMS 4.4 and AI behavior analytics at the April 2020 IPVM New Products show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video...
Indoor Robotics Presents Tando Aerial Drones on May 20, 2020
Indoor Robotics presented Tando indoor autonomous drones at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video from...
Directory of 89 Video Surveillance Startups on May 20, 2020
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly...
FLIR Cancelling Contract With X.Labs / Feevr on May 20, 2020
While X.Labs announced the signing of a new agreement with FLIR on May 12, 2020, FLIR said, in response, on May 18, 2020, that they had cancelled a...