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

Dahua Intercom Tested on Feb 07, 2019
Video intercoms are a growing market with video surveillance manufacturers expanding into this niche. IPVM is continuing its series of video...
ONVIF Video Surveillance Tutorial on Jan 29, 2019
ONVIF is well known within the surveillance industry as an interface to connect IP cameras and VMS systems. However, new users may find it...
Access Control Turnstiles Guide on Jan 28, 2019
Turnstiles control pedestrian access to secured areas, essentially becoming moving portions of fences, walls, or barricades for physically stop...
Cable Trenching for Surveillance on Jan 21, 2019
Trenching cable for surveillance is surprisingly complex. While using shovels, picks, and hoes is not advanced technology, the proper planning,...
CES 2019 Show Report on Jan 10, 2019
IPVM was at CES 2019 for the second year (see our CES 2018 Show Final Report) and is reporting on announcements and interesting news from the show...
H.265 / HEVC Codec Tutorial on Jan 08, 2019
H.265 support improved significantly in 2018, with H.265 camera/VMS compatibility increased compared to only a year ago, and most manufacturers...
DVR Examiner - Recorder Hard Drive Recovery Tested on Dec 13, 2018
Bypassing passwords and long download times on-site, DVR Examiner collects and organizes video evidence directly from a hard drive extracted from...
Directory of Video Intercoms on Nov 13, 2018
Video Intercoms, also known as Video Door-Phones or Video Entry Systems, have been growing in the past decade as more and more IP camera...
Axis 2N Intercom Tested on Nov 08, 2018
Axis expanded its video intercom business buying Czech-based 2N in 2016. Despite competing against owner Axis' intercoms, 2N recently registered as...
Building Occupancy Codes and Access Control Tutorial on Nov 01, 2018
A building or room's classification can greatly impact which building codes must be followed. In terms of access control, these 'occupancy codes'...

Most Recent Industry Reports

From The Basement To Buried Behind Chinatown: ISC West Emerging Technology Zone on Feb 22, 2019
What does ISC West think about 'Emerging Technology'? Well, last year, they put those companies in the basement. This year, they moved them up to...
Private School IT Manager Surveillance Interview on Feb 22, 2019
This IT manager describes himself as the "oft-maligned IT person" whose "opinions may not always be appreciated by the integrator crowd." But he is...
Outdoor Camera Mounting Hardware Guide on Feb 21, 2019
Mounting cameras outdoors can be challenging, requiring understanding different types of equipment and methods. In this guide, we teach this...
HID Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 21, 2019
HID favorability results were strong, in the 2019 IPVM integrator study of 200+ integrators, with a net +62% and low negativity as the table below...
First US State, Vermont, Bans Dahua and Hikvision on Feb 21, 2019
The first US state, Vermont, has issued a ban on a number of Chinese and Russian manufacturers including the world's 2 largest video surveillance...
ADI 'SAVE BIG' On FLIR And Hikvision Examined on Feb 20, 2019
One is a major US defense supplier. The other is owned by the Chinese government. But you can "SAVE BIG" on both at ADI. In this note, we...
BluB0x Company Profile on Feb 20, 2019
BluB0x has doubled in revenue every year since its founding in 2013, according to CEO Patrick Barry. We originally reported on them in 2015. At the...
Massive Leak Of Chinese VMS Provider Exposes Xinjiang Surveillance on Feb 20, 2019
A subsidiary of China’s claimed largest VMS provider is tracking the precise location and ethnicity of millions in China’s Xinjiang region,...
Security Installation Tools Guide - 22 Tools Listed on Feb 19, 2019
In this guide, we cover 22 tools that security installers frequently use. This is one part of our upcoming Video Surveillance...
Sales Cuts At Rasilient on Feb 19, 2019
Over the past 2 years, video surveillance storage specialist Rasilient has expanded its workforce significantly, aiming to build its own branded...

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