With Blink, the company of the same name offers a particularly easy-to-set, cable-free and battery-operated monitoring solution. The system is set up in minutes and can be controlled via your smartphone. In the test, however, the system also reveals a few weak points.
Video surveillance systems were so far rarely to be found with private persons, since these up until recently were rather expensive and not exactly simple in their establishment. However, various manufacturers now offer IP camera monitoring solutions, which can set up absolute technology in just a few minutes. One of these systems is called Blink. The project, funded by a kickstarter campaign in 2014, is now a thriving company and now offers its monitoring solution on the German market. Blink is distinguished by a particularly simple configuration without cables and an understanding of technology.
We have tried the Surveillance Solution Blink in the Praxiseinsatz for you and report in the following lines about our experiences with the monitoring system.
The Blink basic kit consists of a camera and a sync module. It is delivered in two separate boxes. In addition to a quick start guide, the camera package contains two AA batteries as well as a holder that can be used to attach the camera to surfaces. The sync module box also has a quick start guide, but the package contains a USB power supply instead of the two AA batteries as well as an associated connection cable.
The quick start guide explains the connection of the camera as well as the sync module and calls you to download the Blink app. The app first creates a flashing account. The smartphone is then connected to the sync module. This must first be connected to the power supply. The first connection between the smartphone and the sync module is via a QR code and a WLAN network built by the sync module. As soon as a connection to the sync module is established, this is connected to the WLAN home network.
If the sync module is configured, the available cameras are equipped with batteries or alternatively via microUSB connected to the power supply and the sync module. All you need to do is scan a QR code on the back of the camera. A total of ten cameras can be connected to one sync module. If this connection is also established, the camera is available in the app for selection. The system is already ready for use, but should be further configured.
This can be the system
Once the first setup is complete, Blink can be configured further. First, the motion detection should be adjusted – after all, this is the main benefit of the camera. The options sensitivity, video length and reactivation are available for this purpose. The “Reactivation” function determines how long it takes for the camera to reactivate after a movement is detected. There is also an option to automatically stop recording when motion is not detected.
If a movement is detected, the flash camera can not only make a video recording. Using an LED – similar to a smartphone – you can also illuminate the monitored area. The LED can optionally be switched on manually, or activated by a detected movement. Three different brightness levels are available.
Anyone who does not wish to permanently activate motion detection should also create a schedule. For this, the app offers a grid with weekdays and times, which can be provided with “switches”. For example, you can create the following schedule:
The motion detection is activated at 7:00 am in the morning, turns off at 2:00 pm and is re-activated at 23:00 at night when all persons sleep in the household. In the morning at 5:00 clock the camera is deactivated again – suitable for the rising of all persons in the household.
In addition to the automatically recorded video clips, you can also request a live image of the camera. This may be a photo or a live video stream.
Recordings land in the cloud
All the captures created by the camera will collect the app in a folder. However, the files in this folder are not on your smartphone, but are backed up in the flash cloud. If the system detects a movement, you will be informed of the incident via push notification. You can also share the individual video clips as you would from other media and store them on your device.
There is storage for a total of two hours of video material for each Blink system (Pro Account). If the available memory is full, the oldest clips are automatically deleted.
Integration into smart home systems
In today’s monitoring systems, not only simple usage, but also the compatibility with other SmartHome systems is in the foreground. Also Blink offers a corresponding feature here: The Blink system can be linked with a corresponding skill with Amazon Alexa . If a connection to Alexa is established, this can be activated and deactivated by calling. In addition, you can ask Alexa when the last video clip was recorded.
Unfortunately Blink is not compatible with Apples HomeKit. Whether this function will be available in the future is unclear. However, technically skilled users can connect the system to HomeKit via HomeBridge, an unofficial HomeKit bridge software.
Weak points and change requests
Even if the flashing system is quite convincing, there are some weaknesses here and there. For example, in the case of motion detection, this did not always work perfectly in the test – a sensitivity set too low was not a reason for this.
In addition, the sync module lacks an attachment option. It would be nice, for example, to have two holes with which the device could be attached to a wall. In addition, the LAN port is not working. It would be nice if you could sync the synonymous via this connect to your own network.
In addition, instead of the bright LED lighting, we would have preferred infrared lighting. Here, the aspect of deterrence is lost, but faces can often be better recognized by a night vision solution via infrared light. In the outdoor version – the Blink XT – however, an infrared night vision function is available.
In addition to the blink system, there are still two other real alternatives on the market. For example, Netgear offers a similar system with Arlo, which also consists of battery-powered cameras for indoor and outdoor use as well as a base. The Netgear system costs about 10 euros more in the basic version with a camera and a base, but it is also suitable for outdoor use. Although Blink also offers a camera for the outdoor area, this is however somewhat more expensive and not yet available on the German market.
Netatmo offers a “smart” monitoring solution with the Welcome and Presence cameras. In addition to the simple recognition of movements, the Welcome Camera, which is intended for the interior, has a facial recognition function. The presence camera does not provide it, but it can distinguish between people, cars, animals and other movements in the picture. With a price of around 160 euros for the Welcome camera and around 280 euros for the Presence camera, the system is however significantly more expensive.
In addition to these easy-to-set systems, you can of course also rely on a cheap IP camera and a network video recorder or an appropriately configured NAS system as well as a DynDNS service.