HD Camera / Face Rec / Door Controller All-in-One

By Brian Rhodes, Published Apr 30, 2014, 12:00am EDT

Is it a security camera, face recognition reader, or a door controller?

Stand aside people: BioCam 300 claims to be all three, and more.

Should you consider this device for your systems? What are the downsides?

We take a look at the key features, pricing and competitive positioning inside.

Overview

BioCam300 [link no longer available] claims to be "the world's first HD IP camera with embedded facial recognition and display in a single unit" and if not true, certainly has few form factor equals. The ~8"x8"x8" unit essentially is a multi-imager bullet-style camera, with large IR LED ears, and a 7" LCD display dropped underneath: 

The multifunction device claims to be a HD surveillance camera, a face-rec access reader, a public view monitor, and a standalone door controller in a single unit. When not being used to grant access, the camera performs surveillance duties in low light 

Key Features

  • Face Reader: The unit is designed to be mounted near doors so it can capture pictures of faces, and then compare those faces against its database of 'access approved' individuals. Up to 400 users can be stored in the unit (12 templates per user), which it claims it scans and compares in less than 2 seconds. The unit claims it can scan up to 12 feet away, and the included IR LEDs normalize lighting even in dark locations.
  • HD Surveillance Camera: The unit also includes a 1280 x720, 30 FPS, day/night camera that supports ONVIF. The unit can be configured to record on motion locally to the device, includes several I/O ports, audio out capability, and uses H.264.
  • Door Controller: Lastly, the unit coordinates activity at the door, and has wiegand input ports for other readers, buttons, or REX devices. BioCam300 is intended to used as a 'standalone' access system, and while user schedules and credentials can be stored internally, the unit cannot be integrated into common 3rd party access platforms.
  • Not PoE: Importantly, with all the devices included in one unit, it does not use power over ethernet, and instead requires a 12VDC @ 1.5A power supply.

Cost

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While the BioCam 300 is new, it is expected to have a ~$1,300 street price. The manufacturer ZKAccess is shopping the camera to OEM customers, and the product may eventually be available under different names, for different pricepoints.

For a unit with biometrics, video and access control, the price is relatively reasonable though given its lack of integration, one is buying it more as a stand alone door entry system. On the consumer / residential side, compare to 'Chu' - a face recognition / doorbell startup.

Vulnerabilities

While the list of features is indeed quite long, it does not mean you should jump to buy any yet. Absent of actual testing and verification on results, potential buyers should be wary of these claims:

  • ONVIF: Neither the BioCam300, nor the manufacturer ZKAccess shows under conformant product lists [link no longer available] for either Profile S or 'Archieved Certifications'. Given the risk with ONVIF claims, one should approach using the BioCam300 as a surveillance camera with caution.
  • Face Rec Strength: Again, without testing the unit for facial recongition performance and speed, taking claims at face value is foolish. While product documentation sets performance limits at 400 faces or less, there is no indication of how reliable these features are with even a few faces.
  • Product Reliability: While BioCam300 is build like a tank, with aluminum housings and hefty size, it is neither outdoor rated, water resistant, nor vandal proof rated. Apart from this, serviceability on individual components is not possible, and if one part goes bad, the entire device must be replaced.

Unit Positioning / Fundamental Weakness

However, no matter the effectiveness or usefulness of the product, one glaring weakness is the sole responsibility of the installer to control: Mounting Position. 

The product's cutsheet includes the mounting suggestion below:

The device must be mounted low enough that it collects good images of faces, but this may leave it vulnerable to tampering or abuse. Other environmental conditions, like the position of the sun or users wearing accessories like scarfs or hats may ultimately confused the unit regardless. Also the mounting position on the unsecured side of the door leaves lock wiring vulnerable to outside tampering, perhaps even override.

And like we noted in our World's Deadliest Tradeshow Booth? note, the unnatural posture of looking upward while walking could potentially lead to user injury. Scanning a badge or punching in a PIN may not be sexy, but it remains difficult to break your neck or tripping over the person in front of you while using it.

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