Linksys Mounts IP Security Video Surveillance Blitz

Linksys over the next few months plans to focus on the physical security market for small business customers, an effort that will rest heavily on solution providers. The initiative will be bolstered by the launch of several new products as well as channel education and training, said Allen Powell, director of channel sales at Linksys, Irvine, Calif.

The first of the new products debuted last week with the unveiling of an IP surveillance camera, Linksys’ new Wireless-G Pan/Tilt/Zoom Internet Camera With Audio (WVC200). The camera is available now for an estimated street price of $299. More physical security offerings are slated to follow over the next few months, Powell said.

He said Linksys has been hearing through its VAR partners that small business customers are looking to integrate physical security solutions such as video surveillance into their IP-based networks, opening up a market that Linksys has been missing out on.

“Our partners have been implementing Linksys infrastructure and using other vendors’ cameras,” Powell said.

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Solution provider Wave Link, for example, has been selling Linksys hubs and wireless products to support video solutions built with cameras from manufacturers such as Swedish firm Axis Communications and IQinvision, San Clemente, Calif. Now Linksys can provide a full package, said J.R. Harris, associate director of marketing at the Las Vegas-based company.

Wave Link has already deployed the new Linksys cameras for several clients, including customers in manufacturing, dental, jewelry and copier services, Harris said.

“Customers want to increase productivity of their employees as well as cut down on security issues such as theft,” Harris said. Wave Link itself received a discount from its insurance company after deploying IP security cameras, he said.

In addition, solution providers said they expect SOHO customers to be a large market for IP surveillance solutions as well.

In many cases, customers are already deploying analog-based video surveillance systems tied to VCRs for recording and storage but are seeking to replace them with IP-based offerings. With IP-based surveillance, customers gain anytime, anywhere access to realtime video via the Internet as well as simple, more precise search capabilities.

Solution providers said the high cost of IP-based offerings has been prohibitive for small business customers. However, Linksys’ new camera should open new markets because it includes high-end features such as pan, tilt and zoom capabilities, infrared and motion sensing but maintains a sub-$300 price point, solution providers said.

“In the past I’ve seen as high as $1,000 for a camera that can tilt and pan and support infrared,” said Ron Dempsey, president of The Computer Guy, a Fairfield, N.J.-based solution provider.

While Linksys has been selling video cameras for the consumer market, the new WVC200 is part of the vendor’s Business Series of products and marks its first small-business focused IP video offering, Powell said.

A full line of surveillance cameras is on Linksys’ road map, as are other pieces of the physical security solution, including remote recording and motion detection software, Powell said. In addition, Linksys is prepping the launch of new education and training modules for partners around the physical security market, which should launch within the next six months, Powell said.

Solution providers said they’d like to see Linksys add cameras with higher-end video quality, built-in support for Power over Ethernet and models designed for outdoor use.

With its pan, tilt and zoom capabilities, users can control the WVC200’s movement and focus remotely via the Internet. Up to 10 users can simultaneously access the camera remotely.

An integrated microphone picks up and records audio, enabling customers to use the camera for videoconferencing as well, solution providers said.

“An owner of a business traveling all over the world can check in with his manager and communicate without even having a computer there,” said Harold Durel, director of operations at Bottom Line Telecommunications, a Marlborough, Conn.-based partner.

In addition, the camera can be set in a security mode that can automatically record video and audio feeds when it senses motion and can send a short video clip via an e-mail alert. The camera also includes an infrared cut filter that enables viewing in low-light or no-light environments when an external IR light is used.

The WVC200 supports MPEG-4 video compression, supplying a 640 x 480 video stream. Included software enables the monitoring of multiple cameras and recording to an external hard drive with advanced search capabilities by time and date.