The last couple of years have seen the introduction of many security cameras aimed at the consumer market. Security and surveillance cameras used to be restricted to professional scenarios, and were primarily analog in nature. However, with advances in networking and the appearance of cheaper hardware, there is a shift towards the IP variety. The appearance of IP cameras has also brought in its wake units targeted at the consumer market.

In the IP camera space, large companies such as Bosch, Axis, Sony and Panasonic focus on hardware for professional security surveillance. The large companies make the security cameras, while large peripheral companies like Logitech and D-Link have solutions that make use of the local computer. D-Link, Linksys and Logitech have sub-$300 IP cameras meant for small offices and homes. They have been recently joined by companies like Avaak and Dropcam, which bring more ease of use to the table. These are startups with a focus on usage of IP cameras for casual monitoring.

As we are covering the Dropcam Echo today, let us take a brief look at the company.

Started in January 2009 by two ex-Xobni engineers, Greg Duffy and Aamir Virani, Dropcam has a team of 5 based out of San Francisco, California. The story behind the founding of the company makes for interesting reading. It clearly brings out the reason as to why consumer IP cameras have not gone mainstream yet.

Greg's dad, based in Texas, apparently bought an IP camera from a local electronics shop and spent four hours trying to set it up. After having little luck, he called up Greg and they worked on it for another few hours.  It took a lot of router and network tweaking, but the camera finally came online. A couple of days later, Greg's dad called again and said now he wanted to watch the video while he was at work. The problem with most consumer IP cameras is that they concentrate on features which are important for the industrial sector, where setup is performed by trained professionals. The average consumer prefers a plug and play solution, and the expectations are quite different too. Keeping these in mind, Greg and Aamir founded Dropcam in early 2009. A seed round was led by Mitch Kapor (founder of Lotus), David Cowan (founder of Verisign, venture capitalist), and Aydin Senkut (ex-Googler).  

Now that we know about the company, let us proceed to look closer at their second product, the Dropcam Echo.

Unboxing & Setup Impressions
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  • vgribok - Thursday, August 12, 2010 - link

    Security camera footage is just one kind of data generated by households that one wants to make accessible on the web in a secure, authenticated manner while not having to tinker with routers, IPs and such. Real problem is that it's very hard to create any web-based application that is easy enough for a non-technical person to install, and yet secure enough to expose it on the web. That's why there are very few redistributable web applications for consumers and small businesses, while large corporations moved to web based apps long time ago.

    An ability to build easily-redistributed web-based applications that can be installed inside LANs but still be securely exposed on the web without making non-techy people fiddle with routers, DNS, etc. is the idea being implemented by UltiDev HttpVPN ( It will be paired with Apple-like application store allowing creation and distribution of web applications for customers with no technical skills required to setup secure web hosting on premises, like consumers and small businesses. Home surveillance systems would be a perfect example of who would use HttpVPN.
  • ipvideomarket - Saturday, August 14, 2010 - link

    Dropcam has dozens of competitors with more mature offerings delivering cloud native solutions.

    For instance, Axis has over 12 partners world-wide supporting Axis's Video Hosting Service.

    Also, contrast to Viaas who is delivering a more sophisticated end to end solution.

    Finally, a free 'cloud integration' service is offered by Lorex providing no-cost live video monitoring at half the up front cost of Dropcam.
  • Lonbjerg - Saturday, August 14, 2010 - link

    Who in their right mind still thinks a MAC filter gives any form of security?
    It's spoofed in less than a second...madre mia :/
    Anyone still using MAC filtering should turn in their network-man-card.
  • xtian78h - Tuesday, August 17, 2010 - link

    I'm NOT associated with this company before I'm accused of shameless plugging, but given the subject matter I'm surprised no-one has mentioned (Video Intelligence As A Service). It looks to be similar to Dropcam.

    Key differences appear to be - that Dropcam has audio support & iphone monitoring (big plus) - The Viaas cameras come with a micro SDHC slot which allows for the loss of internet connectivity and a can also provide a buffer allowing the user to impose bandwidth / traffic shaping over DSL etc. Other challenges with Viaas - no iphone support.. lack of UK presence (pricing).

    Whilst some will doubtless argue, why do you need UK pricing, it's a cloud service after all. When you start shipping cameras from the US and need to guestimate import duty, VAT etc - it just becomes tedious. Likewise with fluctuating exchange rates - services billed only in dollars can rapidly start adding up.

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