In November 2014, Rachel Metz at the MIT Technology Review (link to website) wrote about the K5 security robot designed by Knightscope. This robot detects anomalous behaviors and reports these to a security center far away.
The robotic equivalent of a human security guard, is equipped with sensors, cameras, navigation equipment and electric motors. Frankly, it sounds like the Roomba vacuum cleaner, only that instead of cleaning up your place, it keeps you safe.
If you think that the K5 security robot is outside your league but would really want one, then check out the Appbot Link. It works like the K5 security robot but it is scaled down for the home. Plus, it retails for only $199.00 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).
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What is the Appbot Link and how does it work?
Appbot Link is a robot that you can control through the Internet. The robot connects to your Wi-Fi network so that you could control it using a mobile app. It comes from South Korean company Varram System Co. Ltd.
At its core, the Appbot Link is simply a security camera on wheels. You can move it using a mobile app on your smartphone or by using virtual controls that look like video game controllers. You can view things when the Appbot Link is on the dock, and you can move it around for a closer look.
When it is docked, it functions like a traditional PTZ security camera because the charging station rotates, allowing you to still see the room even when the robot is charging. In fact, while on the dock, you can get a 360-degree view of the room it’s in.
While viewing a room remotely through the mobile app, you can take still photos or record a video. These will be viewable on your smartphone. The Appbot Link comes with LED night lights, helping you see things even in the dark. The white LED lights provide enough illumination for you to have a clear photo or video even in low light conditions.
Dimensions. The Appbot Link measures 88 millimeters long by 108 millimeters wide and × 90 millimeters high. The camera can pan up and down up to 120 degrees. This means that you could view at ground level up. However, it might not be able to go under furniture with low clearance.
Features. You can use the Appbot Link as a two-way communication device as it can both send and receive audio. This is just perfect when you are using the device to check or monitor your toddler or baby, and if you want to see whether your little one is doing something dangerous in another room. You can also use the Appbot to talk to your pet while you’re away from home.
The Appbot Link can also recharge itself automatically, or send you an alert telling you that its battery is running low. When it does, all you have to do is to point it to the charging station using the smartphone app and it will dock itself to replenish its batteries.
Another good thing about the robotic camera is that it can right itself when it tips over or falls downs. Using the mobile app, you only need to press one button on the app interface and the Appbot Link will “stand up”.
It also has motion detectors. When it senses movement inside the room that is supposed to be empty, it will send you an alert so that you could check on your room. It is also equipped with face recognition that allows it to follow a person around as soon as it detects his or her face.
What’s in the box? The Appbot Link package comes with the:
- Appbot Link Robot
- The Recharger Station
- The Quick Guide
- The 5-pin Power Cable
- The Power Adapter
- Full HD Camera: high definition photos with three megapixel resolutions and 720 pixels videos.
- White LED light with a rated luminous intensity of around 12,000 millicandelas, which is bright enough to illuminates everything to a point that you can recognize features and see details even in the dark.
- Charging time: 2 hours.
- 120-degree neck tilt angle, meaning the camera can tilt up and down for 120 degrees.
- 1,200mAh lithium-ion polymer battery
- Works with Android 4.1 and iOS v6, or higher OS versions
The mobile app
The AppBot LINK2 mobile app is available for Android and iOS devices.
The main screen shows you what the robot is seeing, thanks to two big overlaid transparent controls: the left control tilts the camera up or down, while the right control pans it left to right (#11 and #13 on the diagram above). Across the top of the main screen, you have four smaller icons.
One shows the AppBot Link’s battery charge level (#4), two buttons at the middle allows you to capture a photo (#3) or to record video (#2), and the fourth icon is for toggling the settings windows open or close (#1).
Pressing the settings icon would bring up more features, which helps you control and operate your AppBot Link. Two columns of additional icons would appear.
|#5||Screen quality: Allows you change the resolution of your screen.|
|#6||App information: Show you relevant information about your mobile app, including the software version, Appbot version, the name of the connected robot and connection info.|
|#7||Face recognition: Toggles the face recognition function on and off.|
|#8||Change password: Allows you to set your own password to prevent unauthorized access to the robot.|
|#9||Motion detection alerts: When toggled on, the app will send you alerts whenever it detects movements.|
|#11||Voice transmission: Your voice is transmitted over to the Appbot robot.|
|#13||Automatic charging: Tells the robot to automatically dock at the charging station.|
|#14||Two-way audio transmission: You can receive and send audio.|
|#15||One-touch stand up: Tells the robot to turn itself upright when it falls forward.|
|#16||Joystick activation: Shows or hide the onscreen controls|
|#17||Night light: Turns the LED night light on or off.|
What could have made it better
- Doesn’t Replace CCTV: While Appbot Link works well serving as your extra eyes for when you are far away, it cannot replace your current CCTV systems, specifically if you want to monitor your home 24/7. The motion detector does help, notifying you when something moves around your house when there should not be anyone moving. But if you have a dog at home, that wouldn’t do much to secure your home. You would probably just get annoyed getting a notification every few minutes only to see your pet prancing around in front of the camera instead of an intruder.
- Support Improvements: Support for this product also needs improvement. Despite being around for a long time, the website does not have support except for the most common problems encountered by their users and the site’s discussion board is empty. Plus, there is a language problem and their support personnel may not be able to fully understand your problem with the Appbot Link and may therefore be unable to offer you the solutions you need.
- Camera Improvements: In the future, the Appbot Link could also benefit from a better camera and better response times in the controls. Maybe the makers could also add a passive monitoring option that would allow it to record video even when you do not tell it to. It would also help if it automatically captures a photo or record a video once it detects unnecessary movements so that it could send you these together with the alert, helping you save time in opening the app and then seeing what’s going on. What’s more, by the time you notice the alert, the intruder might have already left. Automatically capturing a photo and sending it to you will allow you to see if it was really an intruder and thus get police help.
- Password Security: The Appbot Link is protected by a password. But they make use of a default password that they give out to all their customers. Be sure to change the default password or your neighbors might be able to spy on you using your own Appbot.
- Outdoor Capability: You also cannot take it outside. Further, Varram should offer a way to control the Appbot Link using your desktop or laptop, this would allow you more flexibility if you need to check up on your home and you do not have access to your smartphone or tablet.
The Final Verdict on the AppBot Link
The Appbot Link positions itself as a CCTV camera, a nanny cam, pet monitor and a silver camera. But it also bills itself as a toy, which frankly does not really sit well for customers who are looking to use it to help secure their homes.
You could probably use it together with traditional security cameras, adding a new level of security and helps you cover your entire room. As it is, an intruder could easily pick it up and disable it before you could check and take a photo. It is also cute that kids might think of it as a toy.
Nevertheless, the Appbot Link delivers on its promises. Compared to its competitors such as the Rover Revolution App-Controlled Wireless Spy Vehicle(about $149.99 as of this writing), the Appbot Link has better specifications.
Even the $650 price tag of the WowWee Rovio Robotic Webcam fails to eclipse the features and functionality of the Appbot Link.
There might be issues with the image and video quality, and some operational hitches such as the robot failing to stand up after falling over, but overall the robot does its job quite well.
Considering that it’s under $200, you can’t go wrong with getting the Appbot Link as long as you are aware of its limitations. Be sure to check this listing for the latest pricing.