Litmor Capsule Review: An AI-Powered Floodlight CameraBy - 01/04/2019
AI-enabled security cameras are smart. They can detect faces, recognize people, and even detect certain events such as when a package is left or picked up from your doorstep.
Litmor Capsule promises an even smarter AI application: behavior analysis.
What Exactly Is Litmor Capsule?
Litmor Capsule is named after its capsule-like design. It’s an outdoor security camera equipped with two floodlights on both sides of its body. The camera offers live video streaming, event detection, two-way audio, and more while the floodlights double as smart lights. You can manually turn them on or off and even adjust the brightness of the lights using the companion smartphone app. Finally, the camera and floodlight work together. When motion is detected, the lights will automatically turn on.
It’s Not For Everybody
Before you take any further interest in Capsule, there are a few things we should review.
First, it must be hardwired to existing floodlight wiring. The installation process is similar to that of Ring Floodlight Cam. Simply pop off your existing floodlight from its junction box, place Capsule’s mounting plate, connect the camera’s wires to your floodlight wires, and then attach the camera to its mounting plate.
As Capsule uses existing floodlight wires, wire management is improved as there is no need to run a power cord from the camera to an outlet. It’s also more secure as the wires are not exposed. However, hardwiring a floodlight isn’t a job everybody can do.
Second, Capsule is not completely weatherproof. It’s IP55 rated, so I suggest that you don’t mount it in an area that’s overly exposed. It is, however, UV protected. It works even under direct sunlight and it operates in temperatures between -20° and 120°F.
Finally, solid Wi-Fi coverage is required. Capsule does not have an Ethernet port.
Capsule’s features are what separate it from other security cameras. It offers the usual like live video streaming, motion detection, event detection, and two-way audio, but it also offers supercharged features.
For starters, it offers a higher video resolution than most outdoor cameras. Nest Cam Outdoor, Ring Spotlight, Ring Floodlight Cam, and Arlo Pro 2 are all 1080p cameras. Capsule is a 2K camera. To reduce the amount of bandwidth used, you can lower the camera’s image quality to 1080p or 720p.
Second, Capsule’s field of view is a full 180 degrees both vertically and horizontally. However, for now, the app only displays the full horizontal field of view. The vertical field of view is reduced to minimize fisheye distortion.
Litmor promises to upgrade the viewing experience by adding Supersight view. Supersight is a live viewing option that dissects the image into three sections (left, middle, and right) in order to display the entire 180-degree horizontal and vertical field of view while eliminating fisheye distortion. Supersight is promised as a free feature to all those who backed Capsule on Kickstarter during its crowdfunding campaign, but it remains to be seen whether it will be free to all. Below you will find two samples courtesy of Litmor. The first shoes the field of view as is and the second uses Supersight.
Third, while most cameras offer IR night vision that turns the image black-and-white, Capsule offers colored night vision. This is made possible thanks to the built-in floodlights. Instead of using invisible infrared lights, the floodlights light up the camera’s view. The 2,400-lumen floodlights can illuminate a distance of up to 20 feet. However, take note that the farther away the person or object is from the camera, the harder it is to make out details. (Some resources on Litmor’s website claim that the floodlights are 3,500 lumens. I reached out to Litmor and will update the article when I hear back from them.)
AI-Powered Event Detection
Capsule’s highlight feature isn’t its resolution, wide-angle field of view, or colored night vision. The highlight feature is the 4-step, AI-powered algorithm for motion and event detection.
Step 1: Motion Detection
The first step is motion detection. It’s as simple as detecting movement within the camera’s view. Take note that Capsule uses computer vision to detect motion, not a PIR motion sensor. The difference is computer vision detects anything that moves as long as it causes enough change in the pixel level. PIR sensors detect movement caused by people, animals, or objects that register a heat signature.
Normally, we prefer the use of a PIR sensor especially for outdoor cameras due to false alarms caused by moving branches and passing vehicles. However, in Capsule’s case, motion detection powered by computer vision is acceptable as Capsule doesn’t send a notification right away. Instead, it initiates step two.
Step 2: Human Detection
After detecting movement, Capsule tries to figure out if the subject is a person. It analyzes the subject’s shape and movement. If it’s determined that the event was not caused by a person, Capsule ignores the movement. If a person is identified, it proceeds to step three.
Step 3: Family Member Recognition via Bluetooth
Capsule can keep tabs on registered family members. Keep in mind this is not made possible via facial recognition. Instead, the camera uses Bluetooth.
During the setup process, Capsule will ask you to register your family members by pairing their smartphones with Capsule itself. When the camera detects a person, it checks on paired devices. If it successfully connects to a family member, it will ignore the alert; otherwise, it will conclude that the person is a stranger and send a notification. While this is marketed as an unusual feature, I would argue that it’s not that different from geofencing.
Step 4: Behavior Analysis
The fourth and final step is behavior analysis. Litmor claims that Capsule’s AI algorithm can distinguish strange and suspicious behavior from normal behavior. For example, it can tell you if the stranger is a potential intruder or just a delivery person dropping by a package. If it detects suspicious activity, it will send you a notification so you can check the footage and activate the siren.
Local And Cloud Recording
To cap off Capsule’s security features, let’s talk about its ability to record event videos.
When Capsule detects a stranger, whether he or she exhibits suspicious behavior or not, it keeps a recording of the event. And yes, it continues to record for as long as it senses motion.
As for storage, Litmor recommends using a microSD card and can support one up to 128GB. They estimate that a 128GB microSD card can store up to 75 days’ worth of event videos if Capsule captures two hours of event videos per day at a 1080p resolution. Of course, if you set the resolution to 2K or if motion events are frequent, this estimate will be significantly reduced.
You can also subscribe to Litmor’s cloud recording plan for $2.50 per month per camera. They use Amazon Web Service for cloud storage, but Litmor doesn’t say how much video storage is offered. They recommend using cloud storage only as a backup. For example, if someone takes the camera and destroys the locally stored videos.
Although Litmor Capsule offers interesting features, some vital aspects are missing (for now, at least). For example, it’s not smart home friendly. It doesn’t communicate with other security and smart home products and you can’t automate the floodlights to turn on using triggers other than the camera’s motion sensor.
Litmor also lacks a decent smartphone app. Capsule was shipped out to backers in November. Early testers call the app buggy and note problems like confusing translations (the app was developed in Chinese), non-functional interfaces, sudden crashes, and missing features.
And finally, although they delivered the product on time, many of the promised features are yet to be available. For example, Supersight View and Behavior Analysis are not yet activated.
Litmor Capsule promises plenty of features, and it has a lot of potential. Better still, many of its features are hardware-based. All that’s left to do is improve the software experience and deliver the missing features. Can they do that? That’s to be determined. Until that happens, we’re calling Capsule a pass. But then again, it’s not like you have a choice. Litmur Capsule is not yet available. In the meantime, you can check out Capsule by visiting www.litmor.com or Capsule’s Kickstarter page.
You might also want to check out Hipcam (a trio of AI-powered cameras consisting of an indoor camera, outdoor camera, and video doorbell), Deep Sentinel (outdoor camera system for perimeter protection backed by human intervention and professional monitoring), and SimCam (camera with facial recognition, person detection, and motion tracking). All three options are yet to hit the shelves. If you’re looking for AI powered cameras you can buy now, check out our list of cameras that offer facial recognition. Spoiler alert, most of them charge a fee for the use of advanced AI features.