GoPro Competitor iON Cameras Chases After The Home Security Market

Action camera maker GoPro got into some trouble earlier this month after allegations that its camera had been the cause of a serious head injury. But that’s not exactly putting a stop to its remarkable success with a 158.2 percent stock rise and a market cap of more than $10 billion since going public in late June.

Now its competitor, iON Cameras, is looking for growth some place else: in the growing home security camera market. iON is coming out with “iON the Home,” a Wifi video monitoring camera for $130. The camera features the usual with monitoring from your smartphone or tablet, night vision, two-way audio, and cloud storage, which costs nothing to view the past 24 hours of video feed and $10 a month for access to 7 days and $30 a month for 30 days.

Walmart is iON’s retail partner.

iON for a while has been seeking growth in increasingly specialized market niches for its cameras. For example, it’s come out with products such as iON Camo Cam for hunting markets and iON the Game for playing back sports games with an attached display.

Will iON find opportunity in home security?

The look of the camera and its features are remarkably similar to Dropcam, which was acquired by Nest for $555 million in June this year. The one area iON CEO Giovanni Tomaselli thinks his company can compete is the slightly lower price of $130 versus Dropcam’s $150, and iON’s free playback of video feed of the past 24 hours in the cloud.

The US market for security products is estimated to reach $19.9 billion by 2016 from $14.6 billion, according to market researcher Freedonia.

“There’s clearly an opportunity,” said Tomaselli in a call. “We already have all the key ingredients for the home security camera. We have the cloud, the app, the sensors are similar to our other cameras, the processor is the same as the action camera. It became very simple when we start thinking about iON the brand. It’s a natural extension of what we’re doing. We don’t want to be an action sports camera junky. What’s the difference between me and GoPro? They want to be a media company, we are an imaging company.”

Even though iON is looking for growth outside of the action camera category, Tomaselli is clearly not happy to leave the action camera market to GoPro. GoPro is estimated to maintain a 47.5 percent market share in action cameras, according to research firm IDC. Meanwhile, iON has a market share of about 10 percent in the action camera business, claims Tomaselli.

“When is the last time you showed up to a one-horse race?” asked Tomaselli. “Hopefully we can be number two.”

 

Follow me on Twitter @aatilley or send me an email: atilley@forbes.com

Contour And iON Cameras Merge To Help Take On GoPro

The action camera category has a clear leader in GoPro, but others like Contour aren’t taking GoPro’s dominance lying down; the Utah-based maker of POV camera has joined forces with iON Cameras, a New Jersey-based maker of similar devices, in a merger that could help both remain competitive in a space where everyone from Sony to HTC is entering the ring.

Contour made a return to the action camera market last year, with a new lineup of action cameras and its first new products since returning under new ownership, after a shut-down back in 2013. News of Contour’s demise was hailed at the time as Oxandrolone for sale a sign that GoPro had indeed won the segment, as the Utah-based company had been, at one time, considered on nearly equal footing with, and was the closest competitor to, San Mateo-based GoPro.

iON Camera sought to capitalize on the growing demand for action cameras with its first iON Air Pro sports video unit back in 2012, after getting its start in 2011 as a subsidiary of global electronics company World Wide Licenses. The lineup offered by iON has since expanded to include lifelogging wearable cameras, as we well as Dropcam competitors, in addition to its sports/action line.

Joining forces is a logical move for these companies, especially if they want to carve out a corner of the market from GoPro, which only seems to be continuing to extend its lead since its IPO last year. Both iON and Contour brands will continue to exist under the arrangement, with Contour focusing on the higher end of the market and iON likely more aggressively targeting the budget consumer.

The combined company’s product vision appears to be broader than GoPro’s, too; it’ll be offering dash cameras, security cameras, and cameras for use in tactical situations with police and security professionals in addition to its POV and sports offerings. They’re looking to fill in the gaps, but who knows what GoPro’s expansion plans are, and others like Google’s Nest also appear poised to go after more of these parts of the market.

 

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iON’s Camera Records What You’re Not Home to See

LAS VEGAS – Like many other companies presenting at CES, iON Cameras dives into the smart home category with its home monitoring system called iON for Home. The $129 flip up, WiFi-connected camera can be placed anywhere in your home, and you control it using the iON for Home app for Android and iOS.

Once you put iON’s home monitoring camera in your living room, it’ll take 120 degrees of continuous 720-pixel video and through the app you’ll see a live stream of what’s going on in your home from anywhere and use the two-way talk feature. The app also lets you set alerts so you can receive notifications when the camera senses things like a door opening or a baby crying.

I got to take a look at iON for Home, and I appreciated the hinge design of the camera. You can flip the camera up and tilt it to any angle you want, making it easier to hide in tricky places of your home, and it can fold completely flat into its base. It’s one of the most portable home security cameras I’ve seen, so you could potentially take this with you to a relative’s home when you’re staying for a few days or on an extended vacation.

Intriguingly, iON for Home offers free cloud storage of their surveillance videos on a rolling basis. That means you can access the past 24 hours worth of footage from your home, save clips as events and download them. If one day of video isn’t enough for you, iON offers two subscription packages: $10 per month for 7 days of video and $30 per month for 30 days of video.

Having a couple of subscription options to choose from is handy with home security cameras. If you plan on using the device to monitor your home daily while you’re at work, the free service will likely be the best for you. If you travel a lot and need to monitor your home for long stretches of time, you’ll want to go with a subscription package that gives you access to more video.

Stay tuned for a full review; we’re interested to see how much you can actually do with a rolling 24 hours of footage, and if we desire more on a day-to-day basis. iON at Home’s security camera is now available for $129, and its companion app is free.

 

by VALENTINA PALLADINO 

iON Air Pro 2 Wi-Fi review

KEY FEATURES

  • CMOS with 14Mpixels
  • Fixed lens with 180-degree field of view
  • 1080p MP4 recording at 12Mbits/sec
  • WiFi operation via Android or iOS app
  • Helmet mount included
  • Manufacturer: iON
  • Review Price: £299.99

WHAT IS THE ION AIR PRO 2 WI-FI?

The iON Air Pro 2 Wi-Fi is a rugged, waterproof action camera with a full range of mounting options and wireless connectivity. The market for camcorders you can use whilst engaged in sports has grown considerably. Although GoPro has become the leading brand in the area, there is still plenty of room for competitors, and iON’s Air Pro 2 looks like a promising alternative. With Full HD resolution and a WiFi add-on, it’s a real alternative to the GoPro, and garnered some interest when it was announced recently.

Unlike the GoPro, the Air Pro 2 uses the bullet camera format that has become the convention for action camcorders. It looks like a stubby flashlight, with a rugged exterior that is rated waterproof to a depth of 10m. There are just two rubber buttons on the top. The one nearer the lens turns the camera on when held down for a few seconds, and then takes a photo when pressed for a shorter period. Sliding the rear button forward begins recording, and you can turn it off again by sliding this backward. You can also turn the camcorder on and immediately trigger recording immediately by sliding the button forward.

That’s pretty much it for controls on the outside of the camera. The device vibrates to indicate when it is turning off and on, and that recording has started or stopped, which makes it intuitive to use even if you can’t see it. This is great if you have it attached to your helmet. The Air Pro 2 will record video at 1080p and 25 frames per second, with 960p and 720p also available. At the same time, a lower-resolution 320 x 240 version is recorded, aimed at social media and email. The sensor is quoted as having 14Mpixels, although there is no mention of its size. You can capture still images at 4,608 x 3,456. At the top video quality setting, the data rate is 12Mbits/sec, which is decent but not up there with most mainstream camcorders. MicroSD cards are used for recording, and a 8GB card will be enough for around 90 minutes of footage at the top data rate.

 

One of the unique features of the Air Pro 2 is its PODZ system, which allows accessory add-ons to be slotted onto the back. The Air Pro 2 Wi-Fi includes the WiFi PODZ, of which more later, but you can also get one with a waterproof remote control for triggering the camcorder (and up to seven more) from a range of up to 20m. Underneath the PODZ cover is the MicoSD slot, a Mini HDMI port, and a switch to choose between Full HD and basic HD, although if you want to make any other changes to the settings you will need attach the unit to a desktop or mobile device. A micro USB port is available for charging, and there is also a microphone input, which uses a 2.5in minijack. So you can hook up an external microphone, but not when using a PODZ accessory at the same time, so the Air Pro 2 won’t be waterproof either.

 

The bundled accessories are reasonable, if not entirely comprehensive. The Air Pro 2 has a standard screw hole on the bottom with notch, so a regular tripod can be used. However, there’s a Gorillapod-like tripod included, and a quick-release plate iON calls CamLOCK. To go with this, there’s a ball-jointed mount that can either be used with a double-sided adhesive patch for a helmet or potentially a strap. However, the latter isn’t included in the box, and we would have liked to have seen a few more mounts included as standard, although there is a variety of additional mounting kits available, including for helmets, bikes, and boards. The Air Pro 2 charges over USB, but there’s a separate charger included in the box as well, with a full set of swappable plates for different plug types.

The WiFi options starting to find their way onto action cameras are much more essential than those now becoming de rigueur on premium mainstream camcorders, so it’s great to see these on the Air Pro 2. It’s reassuring to report that iON’s iPhone and Android apps are pretty accomplished, too, delivering useful features that enhance the Air Pro 2’s abilities. With the WiFi PODZ installed on the rear, and the camera turned on, a touch of the button on the PODZ accessory itself enables the WiFi.

 

It’s not possible to connect the Air Pro 2 to an existing wireless network, so your next job is to connect to the camera’s local WLAN with your mobile device, after which the mobile app will be able to access the camera’s functions. Whichever platform you are on, these functions are the same, although the interface layout is slightly different in each case. The Dashboard tells you which WiFi network you are connected to, the battery level of your iON Pro 2, and any files currently being uploaded. A separate tab lets you browse the contents of your camera’s memory card, and play back its contents. You can also configure settings, including login details for your social media accounts, which consist of Facebook, YouTube and iON’s own Cloud service, where you are given 8GB of storage for free.

You can also configure the camera’s settings, including photo resolution and shooting mode, video resolution, TV system, auto power off, and whether the picture rotates automatically with camera orientation, which is useful as otherwise you will need the desktop software to do this. But the most useful feature of all is the remote control. You can choose still camera or camcorder mode, then view what the lens is seeing, and take a photo or trigger recording. The preview ends during recording, unfortunately, but at least you get to check the shot is framed correctly beforehand. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the WiFi PODZ sucks power, and will significantly reduce the two-and-a-half hours battery life of the Air Pro 2 to around half that in our experience.

The Air Pro 2’s image quality is decent for an action camera, although it’s not in the same league as the GoPro Hero3, particularly when the latter is using its Protune option. In good lighting, colour and contrast are faithful enough, but there is a softness in detail compared to the GoPro, or a premium mainstream camcorder. Performance in poor lighting is a mixed bag.

The level of brightness and colour saturation remain decent in low levels of illumination, but there is a grainy discolouration across the image, that is particularly evident in areas of white. This is still a better image quality than many action cameras we have reviewed, however. The fixed lens is a relatively extreme wide angle, with a 180-degree field of view. This produces a fish-eye effect at the edges, but means a lot more of the action on each side is captured, which will come in handy when engaged in some extreme sports, such as sky diving.

SHOULD I BUY THE ION AIR PRO 2 WIFI?

The iON Air Pro 2 is worth considering. It’s well made and the WiFi PODZ adds a good level of features with the iOS and Android apps, even if battery life is considerably reduced when in use. However, for around £50 more you could get the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition, which offers a greater range of shooting modes, including 4K, and better overall image quality.

VERDICT

The iON Air Pro 2 shows a lot of promise. It may not have the brand recognition or 4K shooting of GoPro’s Hero3 Black Edition, but it’s still a robust and well designed device. The wide angle of vision will suit some sporting activities better, too. Image quality is not as good as a mainstream camcorder, but better than most action cameras, again with the exception of the GoPro Hero3. There are lots of mounting options, too, although most are optional extras. This is definitely a contender for extreme sports video making.

By James Morris