This wireless security camera was initially pitched at rural and business users, but its application in the consumer space cannot be ignored. Whether you want to keep an eye on your boat, see who’s not doing their dishes at work or capture evidence of your neighbourhood mailbox mangler, we’ve all wanted a high-grade security solution at one point or another.
Essentially, the Red Eye Wireless is a solar-powered, 3G-enabled security camera whereby the user can view the images captured by the device at any computer with internet access. The camera captures a series of stills at a rate of one every second if movement is detected (although you can adjust the frequency if you wish), which are stored on an on-board SD card. These images are transmitted and hosted on the cloud in a compressed format, which allows you to access the images using a unique log-in and password. It’s not video and it’s not in real time, but it means that identifying high-quality, security-grade-evidence images couldn’t be simpler. Stills taken from video-based security cameras are often grainy and blurry; the high-quality images saved to the Red Eye’s SD card should easily allow you to identify a culprit.
I set up our test unit inside our office, admittedly not the best environment to test the device (the Red Eye camera is calibrated for natural light), but I was at a loss as to an alternative; I wasn’t supplied with the mounting brackets that are bundled with a bought one, so an outdoor test was out. Even still, the Red Eye definitely snapped good-quality pictures whenever anyone strolled past my desk; if you’ve got the camera positioned well, you can easily identify the subject, and an exact time and date is assigned to each snap. You can review all of the captured stills (via a web portal) from any internet-enabled computer. The web portal even informs you of the signal quality and battery life of the Red Eye device. There’s a 0.7-watt solar panel on the top of the device that does a fairly good job at powering it. However, it’s not quite enough to ensure that you can just set it up and leave it; the internal 3G modem in particular means that you’ll have to manually swap out the battery every few weeks.
As mentioned earlier, two stainless-steel mounting brackets are bundled with the device, but after that, the security of the Red Eye itself is up to you. To its credit, it really doesn’t look like a security camera, although the screw-in antenna for the 3G signal is the part that’s likely to give it away. But you can come up with some pretty creative methods of hiding the camera depending on the environment. It’s up to you. And you’ll really want to, as it’s not a cheap device. There’s the initial, one-off outlay of $1995 for the Red Eye itself, and then ongoing fees (starting at $49.95 for the basic service) that cover the cost of the 3G data and the cloud-hosted service. [More on what’s beyond the basic service]
PROS: Enables the easy monitoring of just about anything you’d like to keep an eye on. Easy to set up and administer.
CONS: It’s certainly not cheap. The data transmission will require you to keep an eye on the rechargeable battery despite its solar panel.
VERDICT: If you’ve a need for a security camera and you’ve also got something super special to protect, the Red Eye wireless camera system is a great means of keeping an eye on things from a distance. The price is certainly a barrier to some, but you’d be hard pressed to find such a comprehensive security solution for anything less.