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Another success story from the crowdfunding scene, iFamCare raised over $60,000 to reach the market and is now available on Amazon for $150 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here). Packing in a host of features, it aims to top many of the common smart home camera offerings.
Despite the Helmet name, it is nothing to with a helmet cam for bike or motorbike riders, before you rush off to get one, it just happens to look a bit like a robotic helmet.
The iFamCare Helmet aims for high specifications with a full HD camera, laser for your pets to play with and an air sensor to nominally monitor environmental quality. There’s also a microphone and speaker to chat with people or pets at home from your smartphone.
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Available in black, white or silver, the Helmet HD is a funkily styled unit that sits on a swivel base and can tilt up and down. The base allows the camera to rotate 360 for a complete view of a room, and 70 degrees in the vertical.
Inside the Helmet is a 1080p full HD camera with night vision, an air quality sensor and the laser for pet play. There’s an SD card slot to provide local storage, and the company promises cloud options in the near future.
Setup over WiFi is nearly instantaneous and enables the homeowner to watch whatever is going on via an iOS or Android app. The apps support multiple cameras, so you can keep an eye on a different room.
There’s a motion detection feature to trigger alerts, and you can share video or stills on social media for the app, which definitely makes it more of a nanny cam than a security model.
The company doesn’t talk much about the air sensor, which could set this apart from most models, other than to say that it can detect up to 20 chemicals including smoke, formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen, ethanol, ammonia, and cigarettes.
Pros of the iFamCare Helmet HD Cam
For installation, the camera can be wall-mounted or installed on a shelf, it requires power so will need to be near a wall socket, but that’s the story with most models. The app is smart and efficient and is perfect for keeping an eye on one room while you are elsewhere in the home.
There’s the usual lag as you move further from home on a mobile network, but nothing too dramatic. The cameras provide both good day and night vision images, and as long as it stays connected to the network provides a reassuring stream of home, pet or child activity to a device.
Alerts can be provided by a sound or motion trigger and will send an image of the activity for the user to check, it does work, but can be prone to false triggers.
In use, you can move the camera by swiping on the app screen, the movement is most used for when playing with a pet using the laser, there are preset movement patterns for this or you can take control, assuming your pet is interested in the little red dot (our cats do love it)!
Cons of the iFamCare Helmet HD Cam
There is no PC app or cloud support for the device, everything works via the app only, and there are next to no instructions, so you are left to your own devices to explore the Helmet’s features. It also has issues with long router passwords, which is unacceptable in this high security age, so setup may not be as easy as the company claims.
The main issue with installation is that it only supports 2.4GHz WiFi, so if you have a 5Hz router, you’ll have to lower the settings, which may impact other devices.
This is a major oversight for a new to the market product and will reduce performance around the home and especially when you are away from your property, reducing video quality and increasing lag.
The video component uses motion JPEG to send video, which is okay, but hardly groundbreaking technology, and prone to lag and breakup. Also on the app is a Community feature which allows you to share images with other users.
Is this something people really want? Surely they are happy with posting clips on Facebook to their actual friends?
The air sensor may provide a useful alarm if someone is having a sneaky break, but since ammonia and ethanol are in most cleaning products, expect false alarms.
Also, since most smart homes will already have CO and smoke detectors, it seems a bit redundant, especially if the company isn’t making a big deal out of it. As ever, if there’s an external source of air pollution, then opening your windows isn’t going to make it go away!
Otherwise, this performs like most home cameras, with trade-offs on image quality for speed, and issues with WiFi drop off and repeated false alerts from the motion detectors. The first company to really sort these out could make a big impact on the market. Not that it is not waterproof or designed for outside use.
It is kind of refreshing to see a smart home camera without the add-on-cost extras of a cloud subscription, but knowing that it is coming takes a little gloss off the Helmet. Otherwise this is a well-priced perfectly acceptable unit on the market with some decent features.
The main moans are around the company believing their product will “just work.” Sticking an “i” on the product name doesn’t magically make it like an Apple device, and anyone with a modern router or strong passwords will find this device a pain to setup.
The makers should focus on all possible users, not just the “typical” user that they dream about in marketing meetings.
Overall there is a qualified yet to buy this, but expect a refresh soon to deal with the issues that this (and other products) suffer from. So, you might want to wait a while.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!