We’ve already seen the way technology can change the way that we think about insurance, as well as our attitudes to safety and responsibility when you consider the ‘black box’ speed monitoring devices in cars and the now common use of dash cams which can both be used by drivers and insurers to find a balance between getting the right cover and the price being charged for it.
Now we are starting to see technology coming into the home insurance marketplace, with insurance provider NEOS producing an ultra-budget smart-home camera which comes with all the necessary security features like full 1080p HD remote monitoring, night vision and cloud back-up that can provide essential evidence during and after a break-in. The Neos SmartCam doesn’t care who your insurer is, it’s a standalone device that can potentially improve security and crime resolution without any additional baggage.
Now, to be absolutely clear, we have not seen the device in person and so have no user experience to share with you at this time (we have been offered one so we might be able to give a more personal opinion in the future), however in conversations with company reps they have clarified some of the security features that worried me – simply because I wouldn’t expect them to be so thorough for a device that costs just £20.
The first thing is that the device automatically triggers the camera when it detects an event like a break-in, using smart-home features like monitoring your phone to know that it’s not you walking through the shot. That automatic recording lasts just 12 seconds which is not going to record the entire home invasion but should be enough to record essential evidence, and more importantly, the file size created is small enough that there is more chance for the recording to be uploaded to the cloud before the burglar notices the camera and unplugs it.
If the thief does take the camera away they will also have all the evidence that’s stored on the SD card. However, since the online account is not just tied to the camera’s serial number they can’t simply force access later and delete the online footage. Incidentally, the footage that is sent to the cloud is encrypted and anonymised in case of a breach of their servers, meaning less threat from hackers too.
The online storage feature for all those 12-second shots – whether it’s a burglar climbing through the window or your dog getting up on the sofa (again) is free. Yep, I double checked that, there is no subscription or fee of any kind to keep those images safe. Granted they’re only kept online for a short time, but in theory it’s long enough to either get home and notice something is wrong or check the footage after receiving the remote notification. You then have some time to download the evidence and hand it over to the police if you need to. Anything livestreamed is stored to the SD card and only available to watch on a PC at the moment, but Neos are working on an update to allow you to watch it through the app. I’m still a little fuzzy on whether whether or not you can also record the livestream as you watch it on your mobile device. If you can also save the stream on your phone’s SD card that would make the Neos SmartCam a lot better than some options, and without any ongoing fees it’s a lot cheaper than most regardless of where the livestream is saved. If they also introduce the option to save the livestream to a cloud storage service like OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox that would really set this little camera apart as well as minimise the costs involved.
Speaking as someone who has seen first hand the devastation of being burgled, this is certainly something that I would have liked to have had access to in the past, and regardless of whether or not we get a sample to test, it’s a product that I will be watching closely to see if I can incorporate it, or something like it, into my own home security systems… and of course there’s the financial incentive, since as soon as your insurer knows you have reliable monitoring you will almost certainly see a reduction in your annual premiums; if you don’t, there are an increasing number of companies that you can shop around with and fix that.
Below is the official press release of the Neos SmartCam which is available to pre-order now and starts shipping from Monday in the UK, and below that I’ve included their answers so some of my questions about the device. You can also get more information and place an order here.
London – Neos has announced the launch of Neos SmartCam, making smart home security more affordable for everyone.
Neos SmartCam is packed with features found in more expensive indoor cameras, for an incredibly low price of just £19.99. It includes livestreaming in razor sharp 1080p full HD, night vision, 8x digital zoom, motion and sound detection with in-app alerts, plus 2-way audio.
Neos SmartCam keeps you close to home, wherever you are; and with the auto-arming feature, it uses your location to automatically arm when you leave the home, in case you forget.
Whether working or travelling, it’s easy and affordable to stay connected to your home, family & pets 24/7 through the app, livestreaming the moments that matter most. With an intuitive user experience, the app is compatible with smart phones (iOS and Android).
The multi-functional camera is available in a white matte finish to pre-order at www.shop.neos.co.uk from today. Orders will start being sent out on 28th January.
Matt Poll, CEO and founder of Neos, “we believe that everyone should be able to afford the sense of reassurance that a smart home security camera can provide. With the Neos SmartCam, we’re making that possible and enabling millions of families in the UK to stay connected to home and loved ones”.
Multiple Neos SmartCam devices can be connected to the home Wi-Fi, and controlled from the app. Short video clips are saved for 14 days in the cloud and there is an SD card port for continuous recording.
- 1080p Full HD: Captures sharp images to see every detail
- Night vision: Enhanced night vision to see in the dark
- Motion detection: Senses movement and sends alerts straight to the smartphone
- Live stream: See through the camera lens in real time, anytime via the app
- Auto-arming: Automatically switches on and off as you arrive or leave the home
- Noise detection: Built-in motion sensor, with push notifications and sound sensitivity controls in the app
- 2-way audio: Hear what is happening in real time and respond accordingly
- 8x digital zoom: Pinch and zoom to see more in live view and playback
- Cloud recording: Automatically records motion, storing 12 seconds of video on the cloud
- Flexible design: Simple installation and setup, with a 3-axis movement to point the camera in the best position
- SD card enabled: SD card compatible to continuously record video even without Wi-Fi
- Download clips: Save video clips on the phone and share with family and friends
- Powered by mains electricity: The camera is supplied with a 1.8-metre power cable & plug. If required, a mounting kit with a 1.5-metre extension cable can be purchased from www.shop.neos.co.uk.
We will always be improving our products, so we continue to offer fantastic value. We also intend to invite some of our users to join a community to help us shape how developments are made. We’ll speak regularly about upcoming improvements in our monthly newsletters to our customers.
Note to editor
- Despatch Costs: Postage and packaging costs of £4.99 will apply at point of sale (via DPD Next Day service – a tracked service, with orders placed by 3pm being delivered the following working day)
- Research by Walnut Unlimited found that, based on a nationally representative sample of 2,004 adults in the UK, 1 in 4 said they would be likely to buy the Neos SmartCam at £19.99 – this represents 13m UK consumers. In the same study, 42% said they were most interested in using the Neos SmartCam for home security while 15% would use it to check on pets
Neos is the UK’s first-ever connected home insurance specialist, using smart technology to help people to actively protect the things that matter most to them, when it most matters. Formed in 2016, Neos has been recognised as one of the top 100 most disruptive brands in the world by disrupt.com and won numerous awards for innovation. The launch of the Neos SmartCam represents another step towards making the protection benefits of smart technology affordable, with further products coming in 2019.
Neos SmartCam Q&A
Is there an ongoing fee for the app or cloud service?
12 seconds worth of video storage seems a little limited as far as the cloud goes, is there an option for uploading more data to an alternative online hub or a charge for storing more than 12 seconds through Neos?
- When the camera detects movement it will alert the user via the app, where the user can check what’s happening by viewing a clip of camera footage and / or view the live stream.
- The free package provides an unlimited number of 12 second recordings stored and retrievable on the Neos cloud for 14 days. After the initial 12 second alert, the user can choose to manually record any incident in the home, otherwise the camera provides a five minute break before the camera will alert the user again and record footage.
- However, with an SD card the camera will continuously record any motion sensed
- The footage on the SDcard can only be accessed by inserting in to a PC.
- We are working on a feature which will allow you to playback direct from SD card to the app which will be available soon.
How’s the cloud storage protected?
- Neos SmartCam cannot be set up without password protection
- The primary user registered on Neos App can view the live stream and video clips. The primary user can also add other users to the account who will then have the same access. Only the primary user can add other users. Video clips are anonymised and stored on secure servers hosted by Amazon Web Services in the EU, the live stream is also encrypted between the camera and customer’s device (e.g. smartphone). The server platform can only be accessed by a restricted number of individuals who perform essential maintenance of Neos software and services. This access is authorised, controlled and monitored by Neos. We take data security very seriously and regularly test our security both internally and using independent experts.
- Neos SmartCam is CE accredited and complies with the relevant provisions of the RoHS Directive for the European Union
- In common with all Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) the Neos SmartCam should not be disposed of as household waste.
- Neos Ventures declares that the radio equipment type Neos SmartCam is in compliance with Directive 2014/53/EU.
- The full text of the EU declaration of conformity is available upon request from Neos.