What is an IP camera?

Another day, another new term to learn. You’re certainly aware of surveillance cameras. They’ve become a part of our lives in the last fifteen years, and chances are if you look around you’ll realize you’re not far from one. What you may not realize is that in the last few years, surveillance cameras have undergone a bit of a revolution of their own.

There was a time, back in the dark days of, let’s say 2005, when video cameras were overwhelmingly analog. That is to say, they captured image information and then transferred it as a simple electrical signal where it was recorded. The recording may have been digital even way back when, and it’s even possible that the camera itself was digital, but somewhere along the way it was translated to a plain-old video signal that even an engineer from the 1950s would recognize. Wiring a surveillance system, therefore, meant running a wire from every camera location to a central recording station, which might have been a DVR back then or might have been a specialized VHS recorder.

And then, things got more interesting. First of all, someone finally realized that it didn’t make sense for the signal to go from digital to analog to digital. That’s just stupid. So systems were designed to be digital from head to toe. And that’s when the real breakthrough happened. Rather than just create digital signals that replaced the old analog ones, security cameras were designed to stream video the same way that YouTube does… using the same internet protocols as the rest of your network. This meant that security cameras didn’t need their own wiring — they could travel over the network lines you already ran, and could even go over Wi-Fi networks. When the video streams got to the DVR, they were simply stored and could easily be brought back up.

But of course, this wasn’t the coolest part. IP cameras give you the ability to see what’s going on from anywhere. Because they’re built with the internet in mind, it doesn’t take more than a cell phone app to log into them and watch your office, factory floor, baby’s room, or anywhere you want. This will be a live feed and depending on the camera it will even include sound.

Of course, smartphones have made cameras very popular and so you’ll find IP cameras that are smaller and smaller and can even hide in other devices. This is becoming far more common and Solid Signal carries a wide variety of hidden camera products. Almost all security cameras sold today are IP cameras, so if you are looking for something for a much older system, be sure to get the right item.