Home Security

SimCam review: This home security camera gets an assist from onboard artificial intelligence

The SimCam offers 1080p resolution and a 100-degree field of view, with up to 50 feet of “starlight” night vision, courtesy of a Sony IMX 5-megapixel image sensor. The camera also features a built-in mic and speaker for two-way communication, and it’s rated IP65 for protection from the elements (the first digit indicates that it’s completely protected from dust, and the second indicates that it’s protected from low-pressure water jets). The SimCam can be used indoors or out and has an operating temperature of -4 degrees Fahrenheit to 122 degrees F.

We’ve seen those types of features before, of course, but the software needed to enable them more typically runs in the cloud, and you often need to pay for a subscription to make use of it. The SimCam saves all event-triggered recordings locally on a microSD card, which must be purchased separately (the camera supports cards with up to 128GB of capacity). Alternatively, you can record video to a NAS box on your local network.

The camera’s sexiest component is an Intel Movidius Myriad 2 VPU (vision processing unit). This chip runs software that enables the camera to differentiate between humans, pets, and objects, and it can recognize movements, too. The promise here is that you can set up the camera to monitor for specific activities, such as your child waving at you, or to recognize that a door has been left ajar. The camera also supports user-defined activity zones to further reduce spurious alerts.

Indeed, SimCam is currently raising funds on Kickstarter, offering early backers the $199.99 camera for just $99.99 (other package deals are also available). This is a finished product, however; backers are promised delivery in March.

How do you feel about artificial intelligence (AI)?

If you are all for it, then this home security camera will be right up your alley. It is new on the market and so still has a lot of kinks.

Even still it has some good features. One such feature is its motion detection. It is programmed to be able to detect different motions. For instance, someone walking by,  or the dog walking by.

The SimCam offers something we’ve never seen before: a clutch of onboard artificial intelligence features that are more typically hosted in the cloud and require a subscription to access. Unfortunately, this AI’s performance often comes up short, making this otherwise solid security camera feel like a work in progress.