What's Next for Ubiquiti Surveillance?

By Ethan Ace, Published Nov 18, 2012, 07:00pm EST

Last year, Ubiquiti hit the surveillance market hard with a line of $100 HD cameras that generated a ton of interest. However, over the last 6 months the company has been besieged with counterfeiting issues and a dramatically falling stock price. While the company planned for a next generation PRO surveillance offering in 2012, it is not yet available. In this note, we examine what is upcoming for Ubiquiti and how it might impact their positioning in the surveillance market.

AirCam Pro

AirCam ProUbiquiti's awaited next generation camera, the AirCam Pro, has been pushed back until sometime in 2013. Several improvements are claimed over the original AirCam models:

  • IP67 outdoor rating with heater. Current models are not IP-rated.
  • 1/3" WDR CCD, instead of 1/4" CMOS sensor.
  • 1080p resolution compared to current 720p models.
  • IR LEDs with claimed 30m range. Not available on current AirCams.
  • Varifocal lens with auto focus. Current models use 4mm fixed lenses.
  • Audio, digital I/O, and temperature/humidity sensors, not found in the original AirCam.

Based on these planned features, the AirCam Pro stands to address many complaints more sophisticated users had about the original AirCam. However, most are more or less status quo for professional IP cameras in 2012 (except temp/humidity sensors), and do not break new ground. 

Updated AirCam Firmware

Though the AirCam Pro is still months away at the least, Ubiquiti has made some improvements to its existing AirCam line via an updated firmware release. Features included in this release that were not found in the original:

  • Variable bit rate encoding: The camera now defaults to VBR encoding, though CBR is still available. Originally, only CBR was supported, a major drawback.
  • RTSP authentication: For those integrating the camera with third-party systems using RTSP, username/password authentication is now supported. Previously, the RTSP was not protected in any way.
  • Edge storage: In this firmware, recording to SD card is supported on motion, schedule, or continuous basis. This video may be retrieved by the AirVision client for viewing. Originally, all recording was centralized on the AirVision NVR. No failover recording is supported, and this video is not accessible by third-party systems.
  • On-camera motion detection: The AirCam now performs motion detection in the camera. Previously, only server-side motion was supported, causing notable CPU load issues when running multiple cameras.

Only the VBR and authentication improvements will be useful to those interested in using AirCams with third party systems. Though they are nice additions, the more useful on-camera motion detection and edge storage features are only available in end-to-end Ubiquiti surveillance systems.

Still No ONVIF

Though the above improvements are useful to those using AirVision and original AirCam models, Ubiquiti has still made no moves to add ONVIF support, one of the features most requested by users of their support forum. The addition of ONVIF to the low-cost (under $100 online) AirCam line would remove a key obstacle to adoption by those using third party VMS systems. Ubiquiti has stated that ONVIF is "being considered" for 2.0 releases (AirCam Pro and AirVision), but no timeline, nor feature support, was given.

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