IP camera

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IP Camera
IPCorder NVR with cameras.jpg
A selection of IP cameras
Date invented1996
Invented byAxis Communications
First productAxis Neteye 200
TypeCentralized or Decentralized
SlotsSD Card (optional)
ConnectionEthernet, Wi-Fi
PortsEthernet, Audio, I/O block
LanguageONVIF and PSIA

An Internet Protocol camera, or IP camera, is a type of digital video camera that receives control data and sends image data via the Internet. They are commonly used for surveillance. Unlike analog closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, they require no local recording device, but only a local area network. Most IP cameras are webcams, but the term IP camera or netcam usually applies only to those used for surveillance that can be directly accessed over a network connection.

Some IP cameras require support of a central network video recorder (NVR) to handle the recording, video and alarm management. Others are able to operate in a decentralized manner with no NVR needed, as the camera is able to record directly to any local or remote storage media. The first centralized IP camera was Axis Neteye 200, released in 1996 by Axis Communications.[1][2]


The first centralized IP camera, the Axis Neteye 200, was released in 1996 by Axis Communications and was developed by the team of Martin Gren and Carl-Axel Alm.[3] Though promoted based on its direct accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection,[4] the camera couldn't stream real-time motion video, but was limited to a snapshot image each time the camera was accessed. At the time of launch, it was considered incapable of operating as a motion camera due to what was, at the time, "enormous" bandwidth requirements. Thus it was aimed primarily at the tourism industry.[5] The Axis Neteye 200 was not intended to replace traditional analogue CCTV systems, given that its capability was limited to just one frame per second in CIF, or one every 17 seconds in 4CIF resolution, with a maximum resolution quality of 0.1MP (352x288).[6] Axis used a custom proprietary web server named OSYS, yet by the summer of 1998, it had started porting the camera software to Linux.[7] Axis also released documentation for its low-level application programming interface (API) called VAPIX, which builds on the open standards of HTTP and real time streaming protocol (RTSP). This open architecture was intended to encourage third-party software manufacturers to develop compatible management and recording software.

The first decentralized IP camera was released in 1999 by Mobotix. The camera's Linux system contained video, alarm, and recording management functions. The first IP camera with onboard video content analytics (VCA) was released in 2005 by Intellio. This camera was able to detect a number of different events, such as if an object was stolen, a human crossed a line, a human entered a predefined zone, or if a car moved in the wrong direction.[8]


Previous generations of analog CCTV cameras use established broadcast television formats (e.g. Common Intermediate Format (CIF), NTSC, PAL, and SECAM). Since 2000, there has been a shift in the consumer TV business towards high-definition (HD) resolutions (e.g. 1080P (Full-HD), 4K resolution (Ultra-HD) and 16:9 widescreen format).

IP cameras may differ from one another in resolution, features, video encoding schemes, available network protocols, and the API for video management software.[9] IP cameras are available at resolutions from 0.3 (VGA resolution) to 29 megapixels.[10]

To address IP video surveillance standardization issues, two industry groups formed in 2008: the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) and the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA). PSIA was founded by 20 member companies including Honeywell, GE Security, and Cisco. ONVIF was founded by Axis Communications, Bosch and Sony. Each group now has numerous additional members. Cameras and recording hardware that operate under the same standard can work with each other.[9]


Axis 214 PTZ Camera

Potential benefits[edit]

IP cameras differ from previous generation analog cameras that transmitted video signals as a voltage, whereas IP cameras send images digitally using the transmission and security features of the TCP/IP protocol. Advantages to this approach include:

  • Two-way audio via a single network cable allows users to listen to and speak to the subject of the video (e.g., a clerk assisting a customer through step-by-step instructions)
  • Use of a Wi-Fi or wireless network[11]
  • Distributed artificial intelligence (DAI)—as the camera can contain video analytics that analyze images[12]
  • Secure data transmission through encryption and authentication methods such as WPA or WPA2, TKIP or AES
  • Remote accessibility that lets users view live video from any device with sufficient access privileges[13]
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) to supply power through the ethernet cable and operate without a dedicated power supply
  • Better image Resolution, typically four times the resolution of an analog camera[14]

Potential concerns[edit]

Concerns include:

  • Privacy and portrait rights infringement[15]
  • Average higher purchase cost per camera[16]
  • Security can be compromised by insecure credentials, given that the camera can be accessed independently of a video recorder
  • Public internet connection video can be complicated to set up, and may require either a Static IP Address or a Dynamic DNS, though some IP cameras include a built-in dynamic DNS[17] or using the peer-to-peer (P2P) network.
  • Data storage can be a concern with IP Cameras, requiring large hard drives.[18]


As with a CCTV/DVR system, if the video is transmitted over the public internet rather than a private network or intranet, the system potentially becomes open to a wider audience including hackers. Criminals can hack into a CCTV system to disable or manipulate them or observe security measures and personnel, thereby facilitating criminal acts and rendering the surveillance counterproductive. This can be counteracted by ensuring the network and device is secured and staying informed on new security methods. In 2012 users of 4chan hacked into thousands of streaming personal IP cameras by exploiting a vulnerability in some models of Trendnet home security cameras.[19] In 2014 it was reported that a site indexed 73,011 locations worldwide with security cameras that were unprotected by using default usernames and passwords.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Interview with Martin Gren, inventor of the network camera", SDM Magazine., October 18, 2011, retrieved November 24, 2015
  2. ^ John Adams (December 8, 2015), "Martin Gren: IP CCTV's Founding Father", Security Electronics and Networks
  3. ^ "Axis Communications - History". Axis Communications. Retrieved 11 July 2017.[self-published source?]
  4. ^ "IP security camera and network video surveillance visionary". Security News Desk. 29 September 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Fast and Faster". PC Magazine. 3 December 1996. p. 9. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Axis NetEye 200 Datasheet" (PDF). Axis Communications. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Making MPEG Movies with Axis Network Cameras". Linux Journal. 1 March 2001. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  8. ^ "An Incredibly Unboring History of IP Cameras". Protect America. 12 September 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  9. ^ a b "ONVIF: a guide to the open security platform". IFSEC Global. 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Avigilon Launches Powerful 29 MP HD Surveillance Camera". Avigilon Corporate.
  11. ^ Cornett, Ben. "Intro to Surveillance Camera Technologies". EZWatch.com. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  12. ^ Alexandr Lytkin. IP Video Surveillance. An Essential Guide, 2012, ISBN 978-5-600-00033-9.
  13. ^ "Home Security". Wireless IP Cameras. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  14. ^ "Top 4 Benefits of Moving from analog to IP video surveliance". frontier-security.com. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  15. ^ https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-livestreaming/china-surveillance-streaming-platform-shut-down-amid-privacy-concerns-idUSKBN1EE1OU
  16. ^ "The Best Home Security Cameras of 2016". PCMAG.
  17. ^ David Braue (21 June 2012). "DIY: home surveillance with IP network cameras". CNET. CBS Interactive.
  18. ^ "The Pros and Cons of IP Cameras". acctelecom.com. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  19. ^ Notopoulos, Katie (3 February 2012). "Somebody's watching: how a simple exploit lets strangers tap into private security cameras". The Verge. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  20. ^ Smith, Ms. "Peeping into 73,000 unsecured security cameras via default passwords". Network World. Retrieved 19 February 2017.

External links[edit]