Webcam can mind the door

Webcam can mind the door


Circumventing a firewall is one thing. Picking a door lock is something different. Wouldn't it be nice to catch physical break-ins with a simple networked device?

The Axis 2120 Network Camera from Sweden's Axis Communications Inc. boosts security from passwords, biometric readers and door locks by letting the administrator monitor via browser without having to dedicate a PC to a video camera.

When I heard of this, I wondered how the Axis device could operate on a network and over the Internet without a PC.

The answer is that the Axis camera has a built-in Web server running the Linux operating system. It works over any TCP/IP network'LAN, WAN or the Internet.

As a deterrent to physical break-ins, the Axis 2120 incorporates motion-detection software, which is easy to configure and can be administered remotely.

For example, the administrator can crop a section of the camera's field of vision and activate motion detection only in the cropped area. The Axis 2120 sends alerts to a predefined e-mail address, usually the administrator or a security station, about any detected intrusion.


Axis 2120 Network Camera


Axis Communications Inc.; Lund,
Sweden; tel.'978-614-2000

Price: $1,100

+Easy to install as workplace monitor
-No way to tell whether anyone else is watching through camera
-Monitoring pagepromotes the vendor

Real-life requirements:

TCP/IP network with a fast connection'
at least a cable modem or 256-Kbps
frame relay.

There must be a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol or File Transfer Protocol server on the network. In the GCN Lab, I hooked up the camera to a mail server running Microsoft Exchange 5.5. I encountered no problems.

Video-stream images appeared at 25 to 30 frames per second, more smoothly than from most webcams. The images also were considerably clearer than with most other cameras. But don't just take my word for it.

Visit the lab's test setup at the uniform resource locator, and see for yourself.
The Axis 2120 has a direct-current iris built into the lens that adjusts automatically for outdoor lighting and keeps shadows to a minimum.

The webcam does, however, have a few shortcomings. First, it gives off a lot of heat, which is common for devices with powerful processors and memory. The Axis camera has 16M of RAM and 4M of flash memory built into a 7- by 3.5- by 2-inch body. It also has a 32-bit RISC processor capable of executing 100 million instructions per second.

Second, the $1,100 device cannot be set up for a private Web page. You're stuck with the default page that seems to focus more on advertising the company than on displaying the images you want.
If you leave the camera image on an open port such as Port 80, for example, or if you've given out the URL with permission to log on to the camera, you will not have any way of recording how many hits the camera receives.

The Axis 2120 is quite easy to install. Connect a Category 5 cable from the camera to a network hub or switch, plug in the power source and you're more than halfway done.

The last step is to get the camera to communicate with the network's primary domain controller via the MS-DOS prompt. Axis must have a static IP address, which consists of its serial number.


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