back to article Samsung SmartCam: Yes, those eyes really are following you around the room

It's still not clear to this reviewer why people would want cameras in their home. Or even outside their home. There is an outside chance that you might be lucky enough to catch someone trying to break into your house and be in a position to call the cops. There is an even smaller likelihood that if you manage to get footage …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    coming soon....

    Users of this will get targetted adverts

    "Hi Mommy, It looks like Aiden could do with a change. We know that you are a busy Mom, holding down three jobs so we recommend that you let our mobile nanny change your son for you. A snip at $50.00 per change. Available in your area now."

    etc

    etc

    How secure is this POS eh?

    The child pron fans(sic) would love to get access to your live stream when it is potty time.

    No, no and no.

    Oblig... Because it is Samsung, 'does it explode?'

    Sarcasm intended by the way.

    1. m0rt Silver badge

      Re: coming soon....

      "Sarcasm intended by the way."

      I don't think it is possible to not intend sarcasm.

      "I'm sorry, I was accidently sarcastic, there." <- doesn't work unless this is, in itself, sarcasm.

      1. breakfast

        Re: coming soon....

        Unless of course you are Ray, the man afflicted by a sarcastic tone of voice. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nq_A6IYJYu4 )

      2. maffski

        Re: coming soon....

        "I'm sorry, I was accidently sarcastic, there."

        I think it's called 'being British'.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: coming soon....

      How secure is this POS eh?

      I suspect it is no different from a typical IP camera PoS as it is most likely just a rebadged IP camera PoS.

      Here is an example for RevoTech from amazon:

      1. Insists on trying to install quicktime on your machine (obsolete and full of remote holes as you wish).

      2. Immediately tries to contact a dubious Chinese cloud dvr service.

      3. Immediately tries to contact a dubious Chinese remote support/application outfit

      4. Tries to get time from an ntp server on Chinese educational network.

      If you want it to work in a secure manner, firewalling it is NOT enough - you need to give it a nameserver view which spoofs all of these with hosts on your local network. Otherwise it will leak info on you in china in step 2 (the name query in that looks like a publish URI one - 500+ bytes of type 256 so it is an information leak).

      This is on my desk now, others I have tried are even more buggy, insecure and illegal (Revotech tried all of 2,3 and 4 without asking for consent - that is a clear cut violation of DPA).

  2. Potemkine Silver badge

    Letting a small kid alone at home is criminal

    Once again Marketing Dept shows it has no ethical values other than 'sell, sell, and sell more'

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Letting a small kid alone at home is criminal

      Whilst it's fun to have a go, the immediately use case that picture brought to mind was Mummy away on business trip, Daddy at home looking after child, but Mummy wanting to talk to child. A common eogh scenario I expect.

      Or is the concept of women working and/or men staying at home babysitting too alien to El reg commentators?

      1. Smooth Newt
        Stop

        Re: Letting a small kid alone at home is criminal

        Whilst it's fun to have a go, the immediately use case that picture brought to mind was Mummy away on business trip, Daddy at home looking after child, but Mummy wanting to talk to child. A common eogh scenario I expect.

        Or is the concept of women working and/or men staying at home babysitting too alien to El reg commentators?

        That's even more creepy! Mummy going away on a business trip, but doesn't trust Daddy, so has a remote camera installed so she can watch him.

        Your partner's controlling behavior ... Does your partner constantly check up on you?

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Letting a small kid alone at home is criminal

        If a parent is away and wants contact with their child, the obvious solution is to set up a Skype call. That way the child and stay-at-home parent is not talking to a black camera. Or is the concept of a stay-at-home Dad being able to operate a PC well enough to access Skype too alien to the feminists?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Letting a small kid alone at home is criminal

      There is a HUGE market for these, and Sammmy (sarcastic extra M) will not say because it's embarrassing...

      Self-produced Pornography! How many times have you been enjoying a hot person doing some self-abuse online only to have your boner (or sarcastic lady boner) aborted by them readjusting the camera?! I KNOW, right! So, this little do-dad fixes that. THIS is why technology is so awesome!

      End of story. Now, ship those things out ASAP! Times a-wastin'!

  3. Lee D Silver badge

    A user interface is like a joke.

    If you have to explain it, it isn't any good.

  4. Dabooka Silver badge
    FAIL

    I can see the meeting now

    'Right, we've got a great camera ready to go, all the bugs gone and everything'

    'Okay, who's the target market?'

    'Oh I don't know, that's your job. We were just told to design and build the thing'

    'Okay, so what's it's case use?'

    'Again, no idea. See my previous response'

    'Right. Well in that case we'll grab some terrible stock photos, knock up an unlikely yet incredibly vague scenario and let the punters figure out for themselves that they're our market'

    'Excellent idea.'

    'Right then. Pub?'

    'Oh give me ten minutes, I've just got to knock out the app for it first'

    1. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: I can see the meeting now

      " let the punters figure out for themselves that they're our market"

      That sometimes works. I can't see why I'd want this but I do know someone who takes photos of the cooker and taps so they can confirm that all are definitely switched off - I can imagine them wanting one (several) of these for the real-time reassurance.

      So, um, that's one possible customer.

      Definitely worth the effort.

      -

      In politically correct mode I feel obliged to point out that the mother not being present does not mean the child is alone.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I can see the meeting now

      That sounds plausible but usually its the other way around. Engineering won't do crap on their own unless they've been doing some R&D work and even then, it's a case of "Look what we can do. Is there a market for this?" but it won't be a finished product.. only a concept.

  5. DougS Silver badge
    Angel

    Mommy is away

    Daddy is home, but he's watching sports on TV and letting the kids run wild. That's why mommy is worried :)

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Mommy is away

      Mommy left the kids and daddy at home without proper supervision? Now that's just asking for trouble.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Mommy is away

        Mommy left the kids and daddy at home without proper supervision? Now that's just asking for trouble.

        Exactly!!! From this summer. Me, on a stopover in Germany, grabbing some sunshine at the city pool and reading a book. Phone rings. Wife control to Major Tom: "You are not letting the kids do anything dangerous, don't you". Me, looking up to junior (age 14) who is on the diving board right about to jump from 10m tower: "No honey, of course not".

        A camera would have spoiled this straight away. These things and marketing them towards mums should be banned by international conventions.

  6. joeldillon

    Samsung in terrible at making software shocker.

  7. Mage Silver badge

    how does it compare to everything else out there right now?

    "Pan and Tilt"

    Except Logitech had a camera maybe 10 years ago?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Re: how does it compare to everything else out there right now?

      Polycom did it automagically with the Viewstation about 15 years ago.

  8. Peter Prof Fox

    Here is a good use case

    Check up on aged relative who won't 'go into a home'. No1 use is see who comes to the door. This has saved hours of fruitless phoning to try to unravel visits that 'never happened' or strange stories of callers.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Here is a good use case

      Yep. I have a razzie on duty to do exactly that. For half the price - all you need is to have it overlooking the entrance hall and the cat feed + litterbox. If the cat feed and litterbox are not tended to you need to get in the car there and then.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here is a good use case

      How big is your house, that seeing who is at the door isn't a 10 second or less walk to it or the intercom? Here in the UK I'd bet that covers 95% of people. Though I agree, catching out the bastard posties who slip a Sorry We Missed You card through the letterbox without ringing would be worth the price...

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Here is a good use case

        How big is your house, that seeing who is at the door isn't a 10 second or less walk to it or the intercom? Here in the UK I'd bet that covers 95% of people.

        I don't think 95% of people live in one bedroom ground floor flat. Most houses are 2 or more stories. Yes intercom could be a solution even if somewhat more limiting than camera.

        That said, I didn't think was weatherproof outdoor camera so the front door use case is probably not applicable to this product.

        Though I agree, catching out the bastard posties who slip a Sorry We Missed You card through the letterbox without ringing would be worth the price...

        It is. I have caught many out with a camera at front door. The most staggering ones are the ones that sneak up to slip "sorry we missed you" card through letterbox without even trying to knock the door. I mean if you actually show up why not at least try to deliver. Then there are the ones "we tried to deliver", and checking zoneminder proves nobody has been at the door. Never been the postie though, always some crappy courier company.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "it needs an overhaul and the sooner the better"

    It obviously does.

    First, replace the app with a simple pilot app and create a proper PC-based control station that the camera connects to via WiFi. The PC should be the gateway to the camera, it can have a firewall properly configured.

    Put all the parametering and complicated stuff (with the easy-to-use online help guide, right ?) on the PC app, as well as robust phone-to-PC and PC-to-camera connection authentication (because you forgot that part, didn't you ?). A phone is just good to pan & tilt, zoom and view the images, it does not have the technical ability to do anything else in an easy way.

    That way, the PC is the copy station for the data, not an easily-removable SD card. Give it an optional cloudy thingy if you want, with a properly-secured and encrypted connection (does Samsung have the tech expertise to do that ?) and time-stamped data for police forensics.

    In short, do a proper job this time.

  10. Dan 55 Silver badge

    And that is where this very promising piece of hardware falls down – in the software.

    Buggy software? Samsung? Are you seriously telling me they might have made one more piece of I-o-Tat waiting to join the Marai botnet?

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    I'll note one other user case and one other failure.

    Farmers can buy these on EU grants and put these at the start of rights of way across their fields (which they are legally obliged to honour) so they can say "Get off my land"

    In addition to the stupidly complex UI I'd also guess that once on your phone it'll want to hoover up your address book and any assorted other personal s**t you have stored there, y'know, because.

    1. breakfast

      Re: I'll note one other user case and one other failure.

      From an agricultural point of view something like this can be useful for monitoring livestock - one of my friends currently has a camera along these lines set up to keep an eye on a sick horse in the stable.

      Like a lot of these types of gadget, it is quite practical in a few very specific circumstances. Whether any of them are common enough to make it a viable commercial endeavour is another matter.

  12. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    What is the security on it? Is it just another insecure IoT job?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      I'm wondering why don't the reviews of IoS stuff here have a paragraph on security? Sure it mentions encryption but about all the rest of the nasty crap that's insecure as hell?

  13. Cuddles Silver badge

    Target audience

    "paranoid lunatics or control freaks with too much disposable income"

    It's aimed at politicians?

  14. Joe Drunk

    Crims don't like being on camera

    I have several security cameras recording video set up on the perimeter of my property as do my neighbors. One of the first thing a police officer does when arriving at the scene of a crime with no witnesses is scan the area for surveillance cameras. They can ask nicely for any footage recording crimes committed or subpoena if necessary.

    A motor vehicle accident occurred just in front of my neighbor's house. Police arrived and both parties involved blamed each other. My neighbor showed recorded footage of the accident while it occured to the officer who was able to see clearly who was at fault and provide an accurate report.

    People lie. Cameras don't.

    Camera's inside my house? Don't see the need.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Crims don't like being on camera

      I've worked in schools for nearly 20 years, including one special-measures school who had an assigned police officer who dealt with NOTHING but incidents at the school.

      We had cameras in every possible inch - the only exclusion was literally OVER the bathroom stalls, even the bathrooms were monitored. It was HD, 24/7 recording, every square inch.

      And I tell you now, most of it is useless. Because everyone knows it's there, they cover up - hoodies and the like. We had kids come back after hours and set fire to things, kick down doors, gangs steal computers, fights in the corridors. Almost every second of it was useless to police and that which was was incidental (i.e. it showed the kid we knew had already done it and could prove every which way anyway).

      But for criminal stuff, it's mostly useless. Motor accidents aren't criminal. Nobody hides their number plates or faces "in case" they have an accident. Burglars will. Thieves will. Vandals will.

      At home, I have extensive CCTV, including remote monitor (I have a screen in work showing my house cameras, for instance). It's been witness to two crimes - a burglary right next door, and a theft of a van down the road. In both cases it's been a police visit because the neighbours told them about our CCTV and in both cases it's been useless. The burglary, we captured the side of a car scouting the houses minutes before at 2mph (he skipped mine, probably because of the cameras, but we couldn't see the car plate or enough of him to be useful), The van theft, we saw the van drive past, again, same problem.

      CCTV is only useful in correlation - the police saw our footage and then knew times (beyond "some time this morning" because I did this for a living, so spent the time to find the guy who robbed my neighbours from HOURS of footage), went up to the shops at the end of the road and requested the same time on their CCTV. Both times, nothing came of it because there was no correlation, no details, no useful evidence, despite a clearly committed crime.

      Cameras don't lie, but they are so easily defeated it's laughable. They catch stuff only incidentally and accidentally. And, technically, if your camera looks out onto a public road it could be illegal to point it anywhere useful.

      Yes, I still have cameras and use them, but I rely on them for DETECTION, not for catching criminals. If someone breaks in, they will be on my cam in front of my face. I know when the postman knocks, I know when a parcel is lobbed over the back fence. But I don't expect anything to be done by the police on the basis of my footage. I will just call them if I see a burglary in progress and start driving home rather rapidly.

      The cameras are there for ME to notice (even on holiday) but probably WON'T identify any culprit, just alert me to something happening. Even with a camera smack-bang in the porch looking at anyone knocking on the door or coming in that way. That one's really there for when the EDF scumbag salesman guy comes back and fraudulently claims to be "from your electricity supplier". Strangely, they don't try that anymore, not with the camera and mic in their face.

      I have cameras in the house too - there to watch over the cats when we're away (girlfriend's reasoning) and/or work out when someone's been in the house (my reasoning, whether a burglar or the cat-sitter to see if they actually DID feed them).

      CCTV, however, is useless without someone watching it live, following it around, correlating with other cameras, and - generally - the police all tell me that, for the last 20 years, they just don't have the time to do that. They are so grateful that I do the legwork of my end, but they rarely have time to do anything about it, and 99% of the time the footage is useless anyway.

      Go live in a dodgy area for a few months and see how far CCTV gets you. "Well, the guy in the black hoodie did it" is useless, and they know that.

      1. JLAKER

        Re: Crims don't like being on camera

        It's useless ... but the burglar skipped past your house because you had cameras? Seems pretty useful to me.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Crims don't like being on camera

          150x more (sarcastically) useful and 20x less expensive option is (all together now) FAKE CAMERAS with realistic LEDs. Same thing, less fuss.

  15. Sleep deprived
    Thumb Up

    "it is very easy for them (burglars) to simply take the SD card out..."

    No need for monthly paid cloud storage to solve this. Just a small remote unit with wifi and an SD card for storage in the house but away from the camera.

  16. Blacklight
    Thumb Up

    They have their places...

    We've got a PTZ ethernet (or optionally, WiFi) camera with microphone (but no speakers), which we have dual purposed - in the night as a baby monitor (using a now aging Nexus 7 as the monitor) and in the daytime, it can be used to keep an eye on outdoors (via a window).

    It's "LAN only", doesn't connect to t'internet - or allow connections from t'internet - if we're "off LAN" we access it via a VPN - but we're probably not the target market Samsung are addressing here...

  17. quxinot

    "A great camera let down by buggy software"

    IoT in a nutshell.

  18. Sven Coenye
    Alien

    Is it just me...

    ... or is this the dawn of the Daleks?

  19. mickaroo

    I am so glad I'm a Luddite

    >> It's still not clear to this reviewer why people would want cameras in their home.

    >> Or even outside their home.

    O M FSM... I am so happy that I am not alone in this world!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I am so glad I'm a Luddite

      A "luddite" with a computer who reads tech news online...

      Do you have any dictionaries in your home? I'm not being sarcastic now... :)

  20. JaitcH
    Happy

    Why Bother To Steal The SD Card

    "the fact is that if you do have some footage of a burglar, and they see the camera ... it is very easy for them to simply take the SD card out and walk off with the evidence."

    Easier just to grab the whole damn thing ... should be good for a bag of something from the local drug emporium.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Review missed a key feature...

    The big "Samsung" logo on the front should stave off any thieves. Robbing a house with one of those puts you at risk of severe burns.

  22. Ken Y-N
    Headmaster

    Ugh, translation by idiots

    The text by these icons were obviously not run past a native speaker, especially not in the context of an app:

    "A two-way conversation"

    There is no "A" in an interface, and a one-way conversation isn't going to be much fun.

    "Play video in enlarged view (up to four times)"

    What happens when I play the fifth time?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    After reading the comments, internet connected Cameras are only good for one thing...

    ~ Self-Surveillance or Spying on yourself or your family.

    ~ How happy can anyone be to feed their 'feeds' to the cloud?

    ~ Will the data ever be mined or used in ways one can't expect?

    ~ At best feeds might be mined by Ad slurpers like Google etc.

    ~ At worst, Hackers will find a way in even with Cloud / local patching, then what?

    ~ Anyone for Hacker FB/Instigram Extortion??? (merely walking through your home naked after showering etc)...

    ~ While Samsung doesn't offer Cloud Cam yet, they've openly stated they want a piece of the Facebook / Google Ad action. Just ask anyone with a Sammy Smart TV whose had Ads thrown at them!!!

    ~ IoT camera devices are by the most useful internet thingy's as far as IoT goes, especially in a work or industrial environment when properly patched + fire-walled etc.

    ~ But at home, they stand to burn every ordinary consumer and family in so many unexpected ways...

    ~ Nothing said here will surprise regular readers of the Reg. Its just a recap....

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