Turning an IP Camera Into an Intercom

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jul 19, 2012

Several integrators have recently sent help requests looking for guidelines on using IP cameras as part of a single station intercom system. In this note, we examine one of those requests and provide our answer:

Problem Statement

Here is a request we recieved:

"I am looking for some advice to use an Axis #P3344-VE Camera with a Louroe #AOP-SP-PB (Bi-Directional Door Station). I am trying to get around having to put in a separate Aiphone Door Intercom system. This is simply a connection between the receptionist (her computer) and the back gate to a school. I am missing the software component. I could be wrong but I don't think the Axis software or the Exacq software can do the live audio needed to create a basic door intercom system. Any suggestions? "

For those unfamiliar with the pieces involved, the integrator wants to use an Axis dome camera to host two-way audio from a Louroe intercom station. The desired user must be able to 'hear', 'talk to', and 'see' activity at the back gate via a VMS viewing client or Live View pane.

This question has two major elements to answer:

  • Will the hardware integrate together properly?
  • Will the VMS software support intercom function?

Both elements must work together in order for sufficient operation. In the section below, we address each element:

Problem Solution

Will the hardware integrate together properly?: In the case of the above equipment, the Louroe AOP-SP-BP is able to be directly connected to DVR, NVR, or IP camera audio inputs. This intercom station contains a separately powered loudspeaker and microphone, providing sufficient listening and speaking volumes at the back gate.

However, in order to support 'two way' communication, the camera must have both 'audio in' and 'audio out' ports available. The Axis camera, a P3344-VE contains both of these jacks.

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

The other critical attribute the camera must contain is an I/O port, so that the intercom unit's 'call button' can be used to trigger intercom function. Again, the P3344-VE contains I/O ports.

One aspect not clearly addressed by the question above, but important to consider, is how the 'desired user' will hear voice communication with the intercom. In some cases, it may be possible to hear/speak to the intercom via connected headphones and mics to the viewing workstation. However, this may not always be possible due to workstation, VMS, or other constraints. A local external 'hotspot' speaker/microphone may be required. In this case, Louroe sells another intermediate device, the AOP-XD interface, that permits external listening/speaking devices to be connected to the intercom station.

In the case above, the integrator clarified that no additional equipment was necessary, and that the end-user would be fine using computer workstation connected speaker/microphone. In this case, Louroe furnishes an example wiring diagram depicting how best to install this equipment:

connecting

Notice the primary communication cable requires 3.5mm minijack connectors to be soldered to the 'camera end'. Aside from this, all other connections are made in traditional screw terminal block or punchdown connectors.

Once the hardware is hung, connected, and powered, the camera has to be configured to recognize the audio input/outputs, and the wired connection of the callbutton. In the case of the Axis camera above, simply checking the appropriate 'audio enabled' checkboxes in the 'Setup' tabs permit voice traffic to flow freely.

VMS Support for Intercom

The integration of the call button is a little more complex, where an 'event' rule must be created that, upon call button button push, it enables the audio feature. Typically, sending an alarm triggers some form of notification to the end-user, and begins recording. The exact flow of this operation can be configured in several ways, and is determined by how flexible the camera controlled logic can be configured. Not all cameras are equal in this flexibility.

In the case of this particular request, neither Exacq nor Axis Camera Station support two-way audio functions. In both cases, audio can be 'heard' from the camera and written to storage, however no provision for 'audio out' exists through the VMS interface. Exacq suggested,

"Have them open up the camera web page on alarm, and use that interface for the two way audio. The limitation is that it would not record or only record half the conversation."

This reply demonstrates the importance of checking supported features of a proposed platform. Exacq's response provides a manual 'workaround' solution, which may prove to be sufficient to the end-user, but otherwise precludes 'audio out' recording of events.

With regards to the original request, the suggested workaround solution is accepted. It involves configuring the VMS software to be alerted, by way of camera, when the call button is pushed and to open a 'Live View' webpage of the camera external to the VMS platform. From this point, the camera webserver is configured to open the audio channels so that communication can take place. The operation may conclude with a command to close the 'Live View' webpage after a period of inactivity and revert back to VMS-only camera viewing.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

ZeroEyes Gun Detection Startup on Jul 16, 2019
A gun detection video analytics startup, ZeroEyes, is being led by a group of 6 former Navy SEALs, aiming to "save lives" by using AI to assist...
Vivotek Trend Micro Cyber Security Camera App Tested on Jul 15, 2019
Vivotek and Trend Micro are claiming five million blocked attacks on IP cameras, with their jointly developed app for Vivotek cameras. This new...
Axis ARTPEC-7 P1375-E Camera Tested on Jul 12, 2019
Axis claims the new P1375-E box camera with ARTPEC-7 chip delivers "clear, sharp images in any lighting condition." But how well does it do? We...
Network Optix / Hanwha Cloud Access Tested on Jul 02, 2019
Remote cloud access is becoming a bigger differentiator, as cybersecurity issues underscore the problems of port forwarding and many integrators...
FLIR Saros Visible / Thermal Analytic Camera Tested on Jun 26, 2019
FLIR's Saros claims "accurate, actionable alerts" with a combination of 1080p visible and dual thermal sensors along with IR and white light...
Axis Live Privacy Shield Analytics Tested on Jun 25, 2019
Privacy is becoming a bigger factor in video surveillance, driven both by increased public awareness and by GDPR. Now, Axis has released Live...
Directory of 59 Video Surveillance Startups on Jun 25, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Genetec Beats Milestone For IHS #1 on Jun 21, 2019
For years, Milestone has touted that they are the #1 VMS. Now, Genetec has beaten them in IHS rankings. But what is this? Even other manufacturers...
Exacq Remote Cloud Access Tested on Jun 20, 2019
Remote cloud access has been missing from most VMSes (including Exacq and Milestone). Now, Exacq, after releasing Cloud Drive Storage earlier in...
Repositionable Multi-Imager Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Panasonic, Vivotek on Jun 19, 2019
Repositionable multi-imager cameras are one of the fastest growing segments in video surveillance, with a slew of new offerings being recently...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Mobile Access Usage Statistics 2019 on Jul 18, 2019
The ability to use mobile phones as access credentials is one of the biggest trends in a market that historically has been slow in adopting new...
New GDPR Guidelines for Video Surveillance Examined on Jul 18, 2019
The highest-level EU data protection authority has issued a new series of provisional video surveillance guidelines. While GDPR has been in...
Anyvision Aims For 2022 Revenue of $1 Billion on Jul 17, 2019
Only 3 video surveillance manufacturers do a billion dollars or more in annual revenue - Hikvision, Dahua, and Axis. Now, Anyvision plans to join...
HD Analog vs IP Guide on Jul 16, 2019
For years, HD resolution and single cable signal/power were IP camera advantages, with analog cameras limited to much lower resolution and...
How To Troubleshoot Wiegand Reader Problems - Inverted Wiring on Jul 16, 2019
Wiegand is the dominant method of connecting access readers, but problems can arise for installers. In fact, one of the most difficult reader...
ZeroEyes Gun Detection Startup on Jul 16, 2019
A gun detection video analytics startup, ZeroEyes, is being led by a group of 6 former Navy SEALs, aiming to "save lives" by using AI to assist...
Motorola Acquires Watchguard, Adds to Vigilant And Avigilon on Jul 15, 2019
2 years ago, Motorola had no position nor relevancy to video surveillance. Now, they own major video surveillance, LPR and body camera providers...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Jul 15, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...
Vivotek Trend Micro Cyber Security Camera App Tested on Jul 15, 2019
Vivotek and Trend Micro are claiming five million blocked attacks on IP cameras, with their jointly developed app for Vivotek cameras. This new...

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