Kuna Outdoor Camera and ToucanBy - 04/08/2016
KUNA is the result of a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The cameras are shipping, and I’ve finally been able to get my hands on the product thanks to a visit to CES. In a nutshell, KUNA is one part outdoor security camera, part light fixture, with the sole goal of stopping a burglary before it happens. It does all of this without being obtrusive, blending in as part of your home’s decor.
(If you want to read my in-home, hands-on review of Maximus hardware backed by KUNA software, head here.)
- Camouflaged Surveillance
- Records in HD
- Learns Over Time For Smarter Motion Detection
- Lacks WDR
- Lacks Traditional Night Vision
- Free Cloud Storage is Limited
Light Design, Companion Lights, and Toucan
KUNA cuts down on the amount of “things” you need on your porch. You don’t need a motion sensor, a porch light, a camera, and a two-way intercom because you now have all of that in one device. Originally, they started out with three designs: Traditional, Craftsman, and Contemporary with Traditional and Craftsman available in black or bronze and Contemporary available in black. If these three design options didn’t fit your overall design scheme, you were out of luck. Recently, they’ve added a fourth design, Coach. Also, they now have a device that uses the same technology found in Kuna but retrofits your existing outdoor lights. The new device is called Toucan.
The Toucan Camera is sold separately with everything you need to upgrade your existing light fixture. It is packed with all of the same technology and is easy to install using a power adapter and a USB connection running from the camera to the included backplate. It includes:
- a 720p HD camera with a 116-degree field of view
- a speaker and 100dB siren
- passive IR motion detection
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
- light automation
- the always on and armed feature
- the ability to view live video and captured footage for up to two hours
- a clear USB cable, smart socket USB adapter, multi-length conduits, 2 wire conduit caps, 3M permanent outdoor mounting tape, cable clips and an installation guide
You can learn more at toucan.solutions.
A design challenge when swapping out lights is consistency. It’s best if all of your lights look the same and swapping out all of your lights for smart lights would be expensive and potentially unnecessary. While you will need to purchase one KUNA with all the bells and whistles, you can purchase a second that matches in design and style, but lacks added technology. KUNA calls this the companion light. Companion lights are less expensive than the primary light. And though they aren’t as smart, they are not without intelligence. The companion light can automatically sync with your primary KUNA so that they turn on and off at the same time for a more natural appearance.
KUNA Outdoor Image & Video Quality
KUNA isn’t just a pretty design. There’s a lot under the hood. It records in 720p, but does not incorporate night vision. This is an interesting choice for an outdoor camera, one we’ve seen before when testing the iSensor HD Patio. Like the Patio, KUNA is using a light to provide vision at night. After all, it is a light. In some ways this makes sense, it some ways it doesn’t. What if you forget to turn your porch light on? The answer is, don’t worry about it.
KUNA is backed by built-in motion sensors and can be set to turn on if motion is detected. The light is a smart light. You can control the light from your phone, set a schedule, or use different modes to add to your home’s overall security. Also, there is no need to worry about arming the device. So long as your light switch is flipped on, KUNA is always monitoring.
Though I did not get to test out night vision, I did get to test the camera during the day. It offers a true 720p experience with very little lag. My only concern with video quality is that the camera lacks WDR (Wide Dynamic Range). While this did not impact the visual experience I had at CES, it becomes a bigger issue when using the camera outside, especially on a porch. If your porch is shaded and your walkway is sunny, this might confuse the camera and impact your ability to see detail in both areas.
Finally, KUNA does not pan or tilt but does support a wide angle (116°) and 2x digital zoom. You can rotate the camera by hand to make sure you get the shot you want. The camera can be manually rotated 40° left, right, or down. Once you have the perfect shot, you can lock the camera into position. To move it, you must press down and turn – similar to a child-resistant cap found on medicine. It is highly unlikely that the camera will move out of place on its own.
KUNA Outdoor Camera for Home Security
KUNA was created with security in mind.
First of all, the light automation feature adds a layer of security. Keeping your home well-lit is a significant step toward security and adding light automation makes this easier when you are not at home.
Second, KUNA was created to protect your home from the outside in. It is rated for outdoor use and has passed the IP44 rating. Many outdoor cameras, including Samsung’s camera are rated IP66. The higher the number, the better the protection. IP44 would indicate that the fixture is resistant against dripping, spraying, and splashing water.
KUNA has been tested in -40F (-40C) and 131F (55C) so it will work in the freezing Canadian winters and withstand in the muggy Florida heat!
Third, the motion detector is a combination of passive infrared and computer vision built into the camera itself. By combining the two, KUNA can reduce many false positives. Computer vision works similarly to learning software. As you receive alerts, you can tag the alerts to help the device learn. Over time, it should learn that it needs to ignore pets or wildlife and simply focus on people. Before it learns, KUNA will come pre-programmed with an algorithm that helps it discern the difference between people who are leaving the house, coming home, or loitering. You can decide which events are important and which you would like ignored. The more you cut down on unnecessary motion detection, the more valuable alerts become.
Fourth, Kuna comes with an intelligent cloud-based algorithm that enables the camera to detect the difference between motion events caused by people and those not caused by people. It can even identify vehicles. This technology is called Kuna AI. Unfortunately, you can only access Kuna AI if you’re subscribed to one of three paid plans which we will discuss below.
Fifth, the setup includes a siren and two-way audio. Imagine this, someone walks up to your door, they stand there looking around, and you get a notice on your smartphone. You swipe to open the app and see that indeed someone is at your door. You have the option of either talking to them via two-way audio or sounding a loud siren to try to scare them off. All of this can happen no matter where you are. It can happen if you’re home or if you’re far away. It doesn’t matter. The idea is that most burglaries occur because the intruder thinks you are away, so KUNA aims to make it impossible to tell if you are away or not.
Finally, KUNA is dependent on Wi-Fi and power. If you lose either, the camera will not function, but it will send you an alert letting you know that power or internet was lost. There is no need to manually intervene when it does lose its source; it is perfectly capable of reconnecting automatically on its own. While this may sound like a con, it can also be a pro. Using a battery-powered outdoor camera requires that you sacrifice something in order to save battery. KUNA does not rely on battery and offers lots of features. Also, battery-powered cameras are often rather sleepy. They must wake up before they can capture an event and often it’s too late. KUNA includes the ability to buffer video thanks to internal memory. By doing this, it can capture an event 10 seconds before and after the event occurs.
KUNA Software Behavior and Video Storage
KUNA offers an app for iOS and Android. The app can be used to set up notifications, customize your experience, and handle alerts. As seen to the left, you can use the app to sound the alarm, play a message, or use two-way audio. The play a message feature is interesting. For example, let’s pretend that you are a single mama. Perhaps you want to make it appear that you are not “alone” for unknown visitors, so you choose to play one of the pre-recorded greetings like, “Sorry, we’re not home right now.”
From a phone perspective, you can access KUNA using multiple devices and you can have multiple users.
Finally, a note about storage. What if you miss an event? What happens then? It depends. KUNA does not offer local storage. It does offer a limited amount of cloud storage for free, but extra comes at a cost.
For free, KUNA offers the option to view events live, use of two-way audio, unlimited recording of events, and the option to download up to 3 video clips to your phone every month. The catch is it only includes a 2-hour history. If you miss an event, it will be recorded, no matter how long it is, but you can only view it within 2 hours. After that, sayonara event. If you need more time, it’ll cost you.
The first of the three paid plans is called Essential Security. This plan is $7.49 per month which reduces to $4.99 per month if you pay annually. It includes 7 days of recordings and unlimited downloads. The second plan, Peace of Mind, is $14.99 per month with a discount if paid annually. It supports up to 4 cameras and includes 14 days of recordings. Finally, Absolute Control is $29.99 per month. It syncs with 8 cameras and includes 30 days of recordings. If you pay annually, Absolute Control is reduced to $19.99 per month.
Compatible Devices and Pricing Comparison
We’ve already discussed that you can add additional Kuna lights or companion lights. Moreover, KUNA will soon be releasing a 2nd generation product. Generation two, according to Kuna, will be HomeKit-compatible. But what about third-party integrations that are ready now? For those interested, KUNA can integrate with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices through a skill. Using your voice, you can turn off your lights, create groups to control multiple lights, and more. A similar integration is also available to Google Assistant users. Like with Alexa, you can ask Google Assistant to switch your lights on or off and control multiple Kuna devices.
The current KUNA light sells for $179 with a two-pack (companion + Kuna) selling for $268. The Toucan light kit sells for $149.99. The kit includes a smart socket and the camera. If you want to purchase the smart socket separately, you can. The socket sells for $49.99 and will allow you to control any plug screwed into the socket.
A Quick Summary
KUNA is a camera hidden in a porch light. It offers motion detection and live viewing, but event history is limited to two hours unless you are willing to pay a monthly fee. However, handling live events can be fun. You can scare the crap out of someone with a pre-recorded message, talk to them live, or even sound the alarm. As most burglars start at the front door and look for vacant homes, this is a good step toward protecting your home from break-ins.
KUNA is continuing to innovate as well. They’ve already launched a new device that can turn your regular light into a KUNA light, a floodlight equipped with a camera, and rumors are suggesting their computer algorithm is in the process of getting even smarter. How smart? Let’s just say smart enough to tell the difference between a person on your porch and a car in your driveway. In the meantime, you can control your lights with your voice thanks to Amazon Alexa and Google Home.